The Plot to Kill Jesus
Mat 26:1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,
Mat 26:2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.
Guzik: You know that after two days . . . the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified: Perhaps after the triumphal descriptions of the coming kingdom, the disciples were reinforced in their idea that it was impossible that the Messiah should suffer. Jesus reminds them that this is not the case.
Again, this was something that they quickly forgot, not remembering or understanding Jesus’ own predictions of His death until after His resurrection.
Clarke: The Son of man is betrayed, (rather delivered up), to be crucified – With what amazing calmness and precision does our blessed Lord speak of this awful event! What a proof does he here give of his prescience in so correctly predicting it; and of his love in so cheerfully undergoing it! Having instructed his disciples and the Jews by his discourses, edified them by his example, convinced them by his miracles, he now prepares to redeem them by his blood! These two verses have no proper connection with this chapter, and should be joined to the preceding.
Mat 26:3 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,
Mat 26:4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.
Mat 26:5 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.
CTR: And kill him — Anger, envy, hatred, united in branding him as an imposter and in sending him to death “for the good of the cause.” So far as Caiaphas was concerned, his mind was already made up in respect to Jesus, and he merely sought opportunity to carry it into effect, to kill him.
Not on the feast day — But our Lord eluded them and returned only at the time of the Feast of the Passover.
Guzik: Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people: They didn’t want to put Jesus to death during the Passover feast, but they will anyway. This is another subtle indication that the Lord is in control of events, when they end up killing him on the very day that they didn’t want to.
Barnes: Then assembled … – This was a meeting of the great council or Sanhedrin.
The palace – The original word properly denotes the Hall or large area in the center of the dwelling, called the court. See the notes at Mat_9:1-8. It may be understood, however, as referring to the palace itself.
The high priest – Holding the office that was first conferred on Aaron, Exo. 28. The office was at first hereditary, descending on the oldest son, Num_3:10. Antiochus Epiphanes (160 BC), when he had possession of Judea, sold the office to the highest bidder. In the year 152 BC, Alexander, King of Syria, conferred the office on Jonathan (1 Macc. 10:18-20), whose brother Simon was, afterward created by the Jews both prince and high priest, 1 Macc. 14:35-47. His posterity, who at the same time sustained the office of kings, occupied the station of high priest until the time of Herod, who changed the incumbents of the office at pleasure – a liberty which the Romans ever afterward exercised without any restraint. The office was never more fluctuating than in the time of our Saviour. Hence, it is said that Caiaphas was high priest “for that year,” Joh_11:51. Persons who had been high priests, and had been removed from office, still retained the name. Hence, more than one high priest is sometimes mentioned, though strictly there was but one who held the office.
Not on the feast-day – Not during the feast.
The feast lasted for seven days. A vast multitude attended from all parts of Judea. Jerusalem is said to have contained at such times “three million people.” Amid such a multitude there were frequent tumults and seditions, and the Sanhedrin was justly apprehensive there “would” be now, if, in open day and in the temple, they took away a teacher so popular as Jesus, and put him to death. They therefore sought how they might do it secretly and by guile.
Jesus Anointed at Bethany
Mat 26:6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
CTR: Now when — Maybe on the night before his betrayal two days before the feast of the Passover; but the consensus of opinion seems to be that it occurred on the Sabbath evening preceding the triumphal ride to Jerusalem.
In the house — One of the Evangelists says that Lazarus sat at the feast, Martha was one of those who served, but the story deals especially with the work of Mary.
Simon the leper — He is conjectured to be either the father of Lazarus, Mary and Martha.
Quite possibly he had been healed by the Lord, and this may have been the beginning of the intimate acquaintance with the family of Lazarus, Martha and Mary.
Barnes: Simon the leper – Simon, who had been a leper.
Leper – See the notes at Mat_8:1. It was unlawful to eat with persons that had the leprosy, and it is more than probable, therefore, that this Simon had been healed – perhaps by our Lord himself. John Joh_12:1 says that this was the house where Lazarus was, who had been raised from the dead. Probably Lazarus was a relative of Simon’s, and was living with him. Further, he says that they made a supper for Jesus, and that Martha served. He says that this was six days before the Passover. From the order in which Matthew and Mark mention it, it would have been supposed that it was but two days before the Passover, and after the cleansing of the temple; but it is to be observed,
1. That Matthew and Mark often neglect the exact order of the events that they record.
2. That they do not “affirm” at what time this was. They leave it indefinite, saying that “while” Jesus was in Bethany he was anointed by Mary.
3. That Matthew introduced it here for the purpose of giving a “connected” account of the conduct of “Judas.” “Judas” complained at the waste of the ointment Joh_12:4, and one of the effects of his indignation, it seems, was to betray his Lord.
Guzik: (Joh_12:1-3) Lazarus eats, Martha serves (without complaining), and Mary anoints the feet of Jesus.
Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
a. There they made Him a supper: Less than a week before His crucifixion, Jesus attended a dinner in His honor at the home of Simon the Leper (Mat_26:6 and Mar_14:3). His friends Martha, Lazarus, and Mary were also in attendance.
b. Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus: In the midst of the supper, Mary gave a remarkable gift to Jesus. It wasn’t unusual to wash the feet of a guest, but it was unusual to use very costly oil of spikenard to do it, and remarkable to wipe the feet with her hair.
Robertson: Judas Iscariot (Ioudas ho Iskariōtēs). See ho Iskariōtēs in Joh_14:22. See Joh_6:71; Joh_13:1 for like description of Judas save that in Joh_6:71 the father’s name is given in the genitive, Simōnos and Iskariōtou (agreeing with the father), but in Joh_13:1 Iskariōtēs agrees with Ioudas, not with Simōnos. Clearly then both father and son were called “Iscariot” or man of Kerioth in the tribe of Judah (Jos_15:25). Judas is the only one of the twelve not a Galilean.
JOL: We are looking at the Simon who is clearly identified as a Pharisee. Luke 7:39-40.
The Pharisees were a group who tried to keep all the Mosaic Law. They were believers in the Supernatural and the Resurrection.
This Simon held a supper in his home and invited Jesus and his disciples to eat. Luke does not put this story in chronological sequence, as Matthew Henry also observes in his commentary on this passage. When we look at the events surrounding this supper we see that this must be the same event recorded by Matthew, Mark and John.
Matthew puts this event just prior to the arrest and crucifixion. He identifies Simon as ‘the leper’ and puts the location in Bethany, just outside Jerusalem, and includes the story of the woman and the alabaster box of ointment (Matt. 26:6).
This is significant, in so far as a leper was not allowed to mingle in company; but was required to remain outside the town. There is only one conclusion; this man had been healed of leprosy.
Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary are identified as present, Lazarus at the feast, Martha serving, and Mary coming in with the ointment.
Mary’s act of anointing Jesus is noted, and multiple voices of criticism are raised (Matt. 26:8, Mark 14:4), but interestingly John identifies the instigator of this as Judas Iscariot (Jhn. 12:4-5).
Jesus deals with Simon first, regarding the woman who was a known ‘Sinner’ of the city.
Jesus says that Mary’s sins have been forgiven. He makes it plain to Simon that grace, and not the law, apply to the repentant heart (Luke 7:40-50).
Luke tactfully omits her name and the location of the event, but says clearly she was a Sinner, the Greek word used is a ‘prostitute’. The other Gospels tell her name and tactfully omit her past life history.
Then Jesus deals with Simon’s son.
Here is the secret, that so many have never understood, Judas was Simon’s son!
He is rebuked publicly in front of his own father, in his home town where he grew up and in front of many influential people from Jerusalem. Jesus has been saying his kingdom is not of this world, that he was going to die, and Judas is now put down for his “wanting to help the poor”.
Jesus used a strong command in the language when he said to Judas, “Let her alone”.
Mat 26:7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.
CTR: A woman — Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus.
Let the Marthas serve the Lord in one way and the Marys pour out their most precious spikenard perfume, assured that neither service will be forgotten.
An alabaster box — Our alabaster boxes are our hearts, which should be full of the sweetest perfumes of good wishes, kindness and love toward all, but especially toward Christ, head and body.
Precious ointment — Equivalent to a year’s wages.
400,000 full-grown roses are required to make one ounce of this perfume.
Mary’s love was so intense that it knew no economy.
Our Lord wished that all who should know the good tidings should know also of his appreciation of such devotion to him, and that the more it costs us, the more he appreciates it.
Expensive because it cannot be gathered rapidly. It requires patient perseverance in well-doing to be “filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph_3:19)
And — While Christ was still alive. A week later and it would have been too late. Do not keep the alabaster boxes of your love and tenderness sealed up until your friends are dead. Flowers on the coffin cast no fragrance backward on the weary road.
Poured it — The twelve apostles were too cold, calculating and business-like; Mary made up for this deficiency in the warmth of her loving devotion. These climaxes of character are not reached suddenly. Mary’s love had been growing from the first.
It behooves us to anoint the brethren with kindly words, loving sympathies, tender expressions, while they are still in the valley of conflict, before they have reached the end of the journey.
Guzik: A woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil: We know from John 12 that this was Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha. She made this extravagant gesture of love and devotion to Jesus.
Morris on the alabaster flask: “It had no handles and was furnished with a long neck which was broken off when the contents were needed . . . We may fairly deduce that this perfume was costly. Jewish ladies commonly wore a perfume flask suspended from a cord round the neck, and it was so much a part of them that they were allowed to wear it on the sabbath.” (Commentary on Luke)
Barnes: There came to him a woman – This woman was Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, Joh_12:3.
Having an alabaster box – The “alabaster” is a species of marble, distinguished for being light, and of a beautiful white color, almost transparent.
It was much used by the ancients for the purpose of preserving various kinds of ointment in.
Of very precious ointment – That is, of ointment of “great value;” that was rare and difficult to be obtained. Mark Mar_14:3 and John Joh_12:3 say that it was ointment of spikenard. In the original it is “nard.” It was procured from an herb growing in the Indies, chiefly obtained from the root, though sometimes also from the bark. It was liquid, so as easily to flow when the box or vial was open, and was distinguished particularly for an agreeable smell. See Son_1:12. The ancients were much in the habit of “anointing or perfuming” their bodies, and the nard was esteemed one of the most precious perfumes. John says there was a “pound” of this, Joh_12:3. The “pound” in use among the Jews was the Roman, of twelve ounces, answering to our troy weight. That there was a large quantity is further evident from the fact that Judas says it might have been sold for 300 pence (about 9 British pounds), and that the “house” was filled with the odor of the ointment (John).
And poured it on his head – They were accustomed chiefly to anoint the head or hair. John says Joh_12:3 that she poured it on the “feet” of Jesus, and wiped them with her hair. There is, however, no contradiction. She probably poured it “both” on his head and his feet. Matthew and Mark having recorded the former, John, who wrote his gospel in part to record events omitted by them, completes the account by saying that the ointment was also poured on the feet of the Saviour. To pour ointment on the “head” was common. To pour it on the “feet” was an act of distinguished “humility” and of attachment to the Saviour, and therefore deserved to be particularly recorded.
As he sat at meat – That is, at supper. In the original, as he “reclined” at supper. The ancients did not sit at their meals, but “reclined” at length on couches. See the notes at Mat_23:6. She came up, therefore, “behind him” as he lay reclined at the table, and, bending down over the couch, poured the ointment on his head and his feet, and, probably kneeling at his feet, wiped them with her hair.
Mat 26:8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?
Mat 26:9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
Mat 26:10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.
Guzik: Why this waste? The disciples criticized this lavish praise. Specifically, the critic was Judas (Joh_12:4-6). But Jesus defended her as an example of someone who simply did a good work for Jesus. Her extravagant – reckless, really – giving for Jesus would be remembered as long as the gospel was preached.
Barnes: They had indignation – John says that “Judas expressed” indignation.
Probably some of the others felt indignation, but Judas only gave vent to his feelings. The reason why Judas was indignant was, that he had the “bag” Joh_12:6 – that is, the “purse,” or repository of articles “given” to the disciples and to the Saviour. He was a thief, and was in the habit, it seems, of taking out and appropriating to his own use what was put in for them in common The leading trait of Judas’s character was avarice, and no opportunity was suffered to pass without attempting by base and wicked means to make money. In his example an avaricious man may learn the true nature and the effect of that groveling and wicked passion. It led him to commit the enormous crime of betraying his Lord to death, and it will always lead its possessor to guilt. No small part of the sins of the world can be traced to avarice, and many, and many a time since the days of Judas has the Lord Jesus been betrayed among his professed friends by the same base propensity.
Is this waste – This “loss” or “destruction” of property. They could see no use in it, and they therefore supposed it was lost.
Sold for much – This, to them, was a large sum. Mark says they complained against her. There was also an “implied” murmuring against the Saviour for suffering it to be done. The grumbling was, however, without cause. It was the “property” of Mary. She had a right to dispose of it as she pleased, answerable not to them, but to God. “They” had no right over it, and no cause of complaint if it had been wasted. So Christians now are at liberty to dispose of their property as they please, either in distributing the Bible, in supporting the gospel, in sending it to pagan nations, or in aiding the poor. The people of the world, like Judas, regard it as “wasted.” Like Judas, they are indignant. They say it might be disposed of in a better way. Yet, like Judas, they are interfering in that which concerns them not. Like other people, Christians have a right to dispose of their property as they please, answerable only to God. And though an avaricious world esteems it to be “wasted,” yet, if their Lord commands it, it will be found to be the “only way” in which it was right for them to dispose of that property, and will be found not to have been in vain.
Trouble ye the woman – That is, disturb her mind by insinuations, as if she had done wrong.
A good work on me – She has done it with a mind grateful, and full of love to me.
The work was good, also, as it was preparative for his death, Mat_26:12.
Mat 26:11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
Mat 26:12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
Mat 26:13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
Guzik: c. She did it for My burial: Mary understood Jesus’ fate, even if Jesus’ disciples didn’t. She gave Jesus the love and attention He deserved before His great suffering. She understood more because she was in the place of greatest understanding – at the feet of Jesus.
Barnes: For ye have the poor … – Mark adds, “Whensoever ye will, ye may do them good.” It was right that they should regard the poor.
It was a plain precept of religion (see Psa_41:1; Pro_14:21; Pro_29:7; Gal_2:10), and our Saviour would not prohibit it, but do all that was possible to excite his followers to the duty. But every duty should be done in its place, and the duty “then” incumbent was that which Mary had performed. They would afterward have abundant occasion to show their regard for the poor.
Me ye have not always – He alludes here to his dying, and his going away to heaven. He would still be their friend and their Saviour, but would not be physically always present with them, so that they could show kindness “in this way” to him.
She did it for my burial – It is not to be supposed that Mary understood clearly that he was then about to die – for the apostles, it seems, did not fully comprehend it, or that she intended it for his burial; but she had done it as an act of kindness and love, to show her regard for her Lord.
He said that it was a proper preparation for his burial. In ancient times, bodies were anointed and embalmed for the purpose of the sepulchre. Jesus said that this was “really” a preparation for that burial; a fitting him in a proper manner for the tomb.
A memorial – Anything to produce “remembrance.” This would be told to her honor and credit, as a memorial of her piety and self-denial; and it is right that the good deeds of the pious should be recorded and had in recollection.
Clarke: For a memorial of her – As embalming preserves the body from corruption, and she has done this good work to embalm and preserve this body, so will I order every thing concerning this transaction to be carefully recorded, to preserve her memory to the latest ages. The actions which the world blames, through the spirit of envy, covetousness, or malice, God takes delight to distinguish and record.
Meyer; How great the contrast between the plotting in the court of Caiaphas and the love-ministry of Bethany! Yet even there, a strain of needless sorrow was added to the cup of our Lord. While His foes were plotting His destruction, it became necessary for Him to speak on behalf of the devoted woman who was suffering criticism for His Name. It is probable that, of all people then living, Mary was the only one who had really entered into the meaning of the Lord’s words and had realized the scenes of suffering that lay before Him. Through the succeeding hours the aroma of that ointment, lingering still on His person, must have sweetly reminded Jesus how dearly He was loved.
Mary is not named in this Gospel, perhaps because it was written during her lifetime and such a reference might have exposed her to suffering. But in the fourth Gospel she is named, because by that time the whole family had gone into the presence of Him whom they so devotedly loved.
Judas to Betray Jesus
Mat 26:14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,
Clarke: Then – Judas – After this supper at Bethany, Judas returned to Jerusalem, and made his contract with the chief priests.
TPT: Iscariot is not his last name or the name of a town. It means “lock-smith.” Iscariot comes from an Aramaic word for ‘brass lock.” The one who held the key to the finances of the twelve disciples brazenly wanted to lock up Jesus.
Robertson: Judas Iscariot (Ioudas ho Iskariōtēs). See ho Iskariōtēs in Joh_14:22. See Joh_6:71; Joh_13:1 for like description of Judas save that in Joh_6:71 the father’s name is given in the genitive, Simōnos and Iskariōtou (agreeing with the father), but in Joh_13:1 Iskariōtēs agrees with Ioudas, not with Simōnos. Clearly then both father and son were called “Iscariot” or man of Kerioth in the tribe of Judah (Jos_15:25). Judas is the only one of the twelve not a Galilean.
CTR: Judas Iscariot — The very one who had objected to Mary’s act of love and devotion. Representing some who, for earthly advantage for themselves, are willing to deliver other members of the Lord’s Body up to tribulation, adversity and reproach.
Judas hailed from the south of Palestine, while the other eleven of Jesus’ disciples were Galileans.
It is inferred that, because of superior business qualities, Judas was made treasurer of the apostolic company.
Critical of the Master and fault-finding. From his standpoint, Jesus was carrying on the campaign for the throne in an improper manner. We find no reason for believing that Judas was a bad man at the time of his selection by Jesus to be one of the twelve apostles.
Mat 26:15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
Mat 26:16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
Guzik: What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you? Through the centuries, many have tried to discern a deeper, perhaps even a noble motive behind Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. Some thought that he intended to force Jesus to show Himself as Messiah in a dramatic way. But the Bible gives no hint of any such honorable motive.
b. And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver: According to the Bible, there was no noble intention in Judas’ heart. His motive was simply money, and his price wasn’t too high: thirty pieces of silver was worth perhaps $25.
Benson: Then one of the twelve — Judas Iscariot, having been more forward than the rest (Joh_12:4) in condemning the woman, thought himself, as it appears, peculiarly affronted by the rebuke which Jesus now gave to all his apostles. Rising up, therefore, he went straightway into the city to the high-priest’s palace, where doubtless he had received some previous information that the council would be assembled, and finding them there accordingly, he said unto them, What will ye give me — Words that show he was influenced to the infamous action partly, at least, by the love of filthy lucre; and I will deliver him unto you? — I will undertake to put him into your hands, at a time and place in which you may effectually secure him, without the danger of giving any alarm to the people. And they covenanted — Or, bargained, with him for thirty pieces of silver — That is, (reckoning each piece to be of the value of 2 Samuel 6 d.) for 3l. 15s. sterling, the price of a slave, Exo_21:32.
Exo 21:32 If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.
TPT: See Zech 11:12,13 Assuming the 30pcs of silver were tetradrachms, it would represent about 4 months wages of a skilled worker. If the coins were Roman denarius, it would be about 5 weeks’ wages. If they were Jewish shekels, it would have been a very modest sum. How could anyone put a monetary value on the life of the glorious Son of God?
Zec 11:12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.
Zec 11:13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.
CTR: It was not merely the thirty pieces that influenced the ingrate. Rather, it was pride. He had thought to be associated with the Master in an earthly throne.
No doubt others today, willing less directly to sell the Lord for earthly advantages or influence or money, find ways of excusing their perfidy
Vincent: Our Lord, the sacrifice for men, was paid for out of the temple-money, destined for the purchase of sacrifices. He who “took on him the form of a servant” was sold at the legal price of a slave.
Clarke: Judas is deservedly considered as one of the most infamous of men, his conduct base beyond description, and his motives vile. But how many, since his time, have walked in the same way! How many, for the sake of worldly wealth, have renounced the religion of their Lord and Master, and sold Jesus, and their interest in heaven, for a short-lived portion of secular good! From Joh_12:6, we learn that Judas, who was treasurer to our Lord and his disciples, (for he carried the bag), was a thief, and frequently purloined a portion of what was given for the support of this holy family. Being disappointed of the prey he hoped to have from the sale of the precious ointment, Mat_26:9, he sold his Master to make up the sum.
Mark 14:10 One of the twelve apostles, Judas Iscariot, went to the leading priests to inform them of his willingness to betray Jesus into their hands.
Mark 14:11 They were delighted to hear this and agreed to pay him for it. So immediately Judas began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
Guzik: (Mar_14:10-11) Judas agrees to betray Jesus, changing the plans of the Jewish rulers – and they will immediately move to have Jesus arrested and executed.
Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve: Why would one of Jesus’ own disciples betray Him? What motive could Judas have? Many have speculated through the years. Perhaps his feelings were hurt when Jesus rebuked him when Mary poured the ointment over Jesus’ feet. Perhaps it was plain greed. Some speculate that Judas wanted to “force” Jesus into an open display of Messianic glory.
i. Mat_26:15 makes it clear that Judas bargained with the religious leaders for the life of Jesus. He asked them, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” Certainly, part of his motivation was pure greed.
ii. Whatever Judas’ motive was, it was his motive. God used a willing Satan, who used a willing Judas. God ordained that these things happen, but He did not prompt Judas to sin.
b. When they heard it, they were glad: For a long time, the religious leaders wanted to destroy Jesus (Mar_3:6). Now they have a precious ally – a disciple to betray Him.
Gill: And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve,…. Apostles of Christ; who was the principal person that had indignation at the woman, and murmured against her, for the profusion of the ointment: went unto the chief priests; as soon as this affair was over, and Christ had defended the woman’s conduct to his shame and silence: he immediately went out of the house, where they were, and set out from Bethany to Jerusalem; and understanding the chief priests were in consultation together at Caiaphas’s house, how to apprehend Jesus, and put him to death, went directly to them, unsent for, and unthought of by them: to betray him unto them; which Satan had put into his heart, and what his avarice and revenge for the late action of the woman, and Christ’s defence of it, prompted him to; See Gill on Mat_26:14.
The Passover with the Disciples
Mat 26:17 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?
CTR: Of the feast — Not the principal feast, which lasted a week; but the roast lamb supper, which preceded the general feast. It was not the Passover Feast, but the supper, that Jesus observed, and after which he instituted, as instead of it, a memorial of his death in the bread and wine.
Unleavened bread — Typifying the world’s proper condition during the Millennial age.
For thee to eat — Jesus was a Jew and, therefore, obligated to every feature of the Mosaic Law.
The passover — The type has, for more than 18 centuries, been in process of fulfillment.
Mark 14:12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover Lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where would you like us to prepare the Passover meal for you?”
CTR: The first day of — The 14th of Nisan, the Feast of Passover beginning on the 15th.
Unleavened bread — A reminder of their haste in fleeing Egypt, not having time for bread to rise, and their suffering in Egypt, called the bread of affliction. (Deu_16:3) Its chief significance was the putting away of sin.
Killed the passover — Typified Jesus, the Lamb of God. The killing of the Passover lamb was always done on the 14th of Nisan; so also the sacrifice of Christ was accomplished on this same day, thus fulfilling the prediction of the type.
“Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” (1Co_5:7)
Gill: his disciples said unto him, where wilt thou that we go and prepare, that thou mayst eat the passover: for it was now Thursday morning, and the passover was to be slain after the middle of the day, between the two evenings, and eaten in Jerusalem at night; and they were now at Bethany, near two miles from the city; and it was usual for servants to get ready the passover for their masters; See Gill on Mat_26:17.
PNT: On the first day of unleavened bread. The 14th of Nisan, when the leaven was removed. In the evening of this day (after the 15th had begun) the Passover was eaten. (See note on p. 207).
The disciples. It is probable that they came with the intention of inquiring on this point, and their thought was answered by the command mentioned in Luke (Luk_22:8), to which they responded: Where wilt thou, etc. As strangers they must join some household in the city. The householder kept the lamb from the 10th day of the month; he presented it in the temple, ‘between the evenings,’ i.e., between three and six o’clock in the afternoon of the fourteenth, himself slew it. The priests, standing in a row extending to the altar, received the blood in silver basins, which they passed from hand to hand, until at the foot of the altar the blood was poured out, whence it flowed by an underground conduit into the brook Kedron. This took the place of the sprinkling of the blood on the doorposts. The householder then removed the skin and fat from the lamb; the latter was burned on the altar by the priest, the former was carried home bound about the lamb. As the number of lambs was very great the persons bringing them were admitted in detachments. The disciples asked where they should find a householder who was ready to do this, and whom they, as his guests, would assist. The accounts of Mark and Luke intimate that most of the preparations were already made.
THE PASSOVER RITES. At the Paschal supper among the Jews from ten to twenty persons gathered as one household. The rites of the feast were regulated by the succession of the cups, filled with red wine, commonly mixed with water.
1. Announcement of the Feast—The head of the house pronounced the thanksgiving or benediction over the wine and the feast. In the form used the words, ‘fruit of the vine,’ occur. The first cup was then drunk by him, followed by the others. Then the washing of hands, after praise.
2. The eating of the bitter herbs, dipped in vinegar or salt water, in remembrance of the sorrows in Egypt. Meanwhile the paschal dishes were brought in—the well-seasoned broth (called charoseth), the unleavened loaves, the festal offerings and the lamb. All these things were then explained. They sang the first part of the Hallel, or song of praise (Psalms 113, 114), and the second cup was drunk.
3. Then began the feast proper (at which they reclined): the householder took two loaves, broke one in two, laid it upon the whole loaf, blessed it, wrapped it with bitter herbs, dipped it, ate of it, and handed it round with the words: ‘This is the bread of affliction, which our fathers ate in Egypt’ He then blessed the paschal lamb, and ate of it; the festal offerings were eaten with the bread, dipped in the broth; and finally the lamb. The thanksgiving for the meal followed the blessing and drinking of the third cup.
4. The remainder of the Hallel was sung (Psalms 115-118), and the fourth cup drunk.
Occasionally a fifth cup followed, while Psalms 120-127 were pronounced, but this was the extreme limit. Little, however, can be deduced from this order in regard to the mode of celebrating the Lord’s Supper. It is probable that with the first cup our Lord made the announcement of Luk_22:17-18. The second cup may have been devoted to the interpretation of the festal act. The third cup, the cup of thanksgiving, was probably that of the Lord’s Supper.
Mat 26:18 And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.
Guzik: I will keep the Passover at your house: This must have been a very moving commemoration for Jesus. The Passover remembered the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, which was the central act of redemption in the Old Testament. Now Jesus will provide a new center of redemption.
TPT: The Greek is actually “Mr. So-and-So.” That was someone who would know who the teacher was an understand what it meant when Jesus said, “My time is near.” The Hebrew Matthew adds this line: “He will volunteer for the task.”
Mark 14:13 So he sent two of his disciples ahead into Jerusalem with these instructions: “Make your way into the city and watch for a man carrying an earthenware pitcher of water. Follow him,
Guzik: A man . . . carrying a pitcher was an unusual sight. Women usually carried liquids in pitchers and men normally carried liquids in animal skin containers. Therefore, a man . . . carrying a pitcher would be a distinctive sign to the disciples.
PNT: Two of his disciples. Luke gives their names: ‘Peter and John.’
A man bearing a pitcher of water. This was the sign by which they should know him. The vessel was earthen, but the fact has no necessary significance.
Clarke: Bearing a pitcher of water – How correct is the foreknowledge of Jesus Christ! Even the minutest circumstances are comprehended by it! … This man was employed in carrying home the water which was to be used for baking the unleavened bread on the following day; for on that day it was not lawful to carry any: hence they were obliged to fetch it on the preceding evening.
CTR: He sendeth forth — Thursday, daytime, 13th Nisan.
Evidently Jesus was at Bethany, at the home of Lazarus, when he sent this word.
Two of his disciples — Peter and John.
Gill: And he sendeth forth two of his disciples,…. Peter and John, as appears from Luk_22:8;
and saith unto them, go ye into the city; the city of Jerusalem; for there only the passover might be eaten, Deu_26:2; and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water; a servant of the master of the house that was sent for water, to mix with the wine, at the passover:
follow him; into the house to which he goes.
Meyer: The two sent to prepare the Passover were Peter and John, Luk_22:8. We may often be guided by very trivial incidents-let us look out for them. A straw may indicate the direction of the current. The owner of the room was probably a secret disciple of Jesus, like him who lent the ass. The R.V. says, “my guest-chamber.” It is very beautiful when the Master feels free to put His hand on our possessions, and claim their use. Does he not ask for the guest chamber of our inner life? Is it at His disposal?
Mark 14:14 and say to the owner of whatever house he enters, ‘The Teacher wants to ask you: “Do you have my room ready where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?”’
Expositor’s: The narrative, as we saw, somewhat displaced the story of Simon’s feast, to connect this incident more closely with the betrayal. And it now proceeds at once to the Passover, and the final crisis. In so doing, it pauses at a curious example of circumspection, intimately linked also with the treason of Judas. The disciples, unconscious of treachery, asked where they should prepare the paschal supper. And Jesus gave them a sign by which to recognize one who had a large upper room prepared for that purpose, to which he would make them welcome. It is not quite impossible that the pitcher of water was a signal preconcerted with some disciple in Jerusalem, although secret understandings are not found elsewhere in the life of Jesus. What concerns us to observe is that the owner of the house which the bearer entered was a believer. To him Jesus is “the Master,” and can say “Where is My guest-chamber?”
[NOTE: Carrying water was women’s work; a man carrying a pitcher of water would be unusual.]
So obscure a disciple was he, that Peter and John require a sign to guide them to his house. Yet his upper room would now receive such a consecration as the Temple never knew. With strange feelings would he henceforth enter the scene of the last supper of his Lord. But now, what if he had only admitted Jesus with hesitation and after long delay? We should wonder; yet there are lowlier doors at which the same Jesus stands and knocks, and would fain come in and sup. And cold is His welcome to many a chamber which is neither furnished nor made ready.
Barnes: The goodman of the house – This signifies simply the “master” of the house. The original word expresses nothing respecting his character, whether it was good or bad.
The guest-chamber – A chamber for guests or friends – an unoccupied room.
CTR: The goodman — Probably a believer. It has been surmised by some that the house was that of Mark’s mother, Mary, and that the upper room thus used was the same one in which the apostles subsequently met and where the Pentecostal blessing was poured out upon them.
The guestchamber — During passover week hospitality was recognized as a duty in Jerusalem, hence the readiness with which the Lord’s request for a room was granted.
Gill: and say ye to the good man of the house; the owner, and master of it, who might be Nicodemus, or Joseph of Arimathea, or some man of note and wealth in Jerusalem, that might have some knowledge of Christ, and faith in him, though he did not openly profess him; since by only saying what follows, he would at once, as he did, direct them to a suitable and convenient room;
the master saith. The Syriac and Persic versions read, our master saith: he that is yours, and ours, our master Jesus; though that is not expressed, yet it was understood by the master of the family; which confirms the above conjecture, that he was a secret disciple of Christ.
Where is the guest chamber; the chamber provided for guests that might be expected at the passover:
where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? where it might be done conveniently, and in a proper and comfortable manner; See Gill on Mat_26:18.
Guzik: The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room”: The scene here implies secrecy, and Jesus had good reason to quietly make arrangements for Passover. Jesus didn’t want Judas to betray Him before He could give a final important talk to the disciples.
i. “The Lord must have had many unknown disciples, upon whom He could reply at such moments to render unquestioning service.” (Cole)
Mark 14:15 And he will show you a large upstairs room ready and with a table set. Make preparations for us there.”
Maclaren: They are at Bethany. The disciples ask where the passover is to be eaten. The easy answer would have been to tell the name of the man and his house. That is not given. The deliberate round-aboutness of the answer remains the same whether miracle or plan. The two go away, and the others know nothing of the place. Probably the messengers did not come back, but in the evening Jesus and the ten go straight to the house which only He knew.
All this secrecy is in strong contrast with His usual frank and open appearances.
What is the reason? To baffle the traitor by preventing him from acquiring previous knowledge of the place. He was watching for some quiet hour in Jerusalem to take Jesus. So Christ does not eat the passover at the house of any well-known disciple who had a house in Jerusalem, but goes to some man unknown to the Apostolic circle, and takes steps to prevent the place being known beforehand.
All this looks like the ordinary precautions which a man who knew of the plots against him would take, and might mean simply a wish to save his life. But is that the whole explanation? Why did He wish to baffle the traitor? (a) Because of His desire to eat the passover with the disciples. His loving sympathy.
(b) Because of His desire to found the new rite of His kingdom.
(c) Because of His desire to bring His death into immediate connection with the Paschal sacrifice. There was no reason of a selfish kind, no shrinking from death itself.
The fact that such precautions only meet us here, and that they stand in strongest contrast with the rest of His conduct, emphasises the purely voluntary nature of His death: how He chose to be betrayed, taken, and to die. They suggest the same thought as do the staggering back of His would-be captors in Gethsemane, at His majestic word, ‘I am He. . . . Let these go their way.’ The narrative sets Him forth as the Lord of all circumstances, as free, and arranging all events.
Barnes: A large upper room – The word used here denotes the upper room devoted to purposes of prayer, repose, and often of eating. See the notes at Mat_9:1-8.
Furnished and prepared – Literally, “spread” and “ready.” Spread with a carpet, or with “couches” such as were used in eating. See the notes at Mat_23:6.
Gill: And he will show you a large upper room,…. A room in the highest part of the house, large enough for such a company, for thirteen persons, which was the number of Christ and his disciples: furnished and prepared; with a table, and a sufficient number of couches to sit, or lie upon, and with all proper vessels necessary on such an occasion:
there make ready for us; the passover.
Mat 26:19 And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.
Barnes: They made ready the passover – That is, they procured a lamb, multitudes of which were kept for sale in the temple; they had it killed and flayed by the priests, and the blood poured by the altar; they roasted the lamb, and prepared the bitter herbs, the sauce, and the unleavened bread.
This was done, it seems, while our Lord was absent, by the two disciples.
Mark 14:16 So they went into the city and found everything to be exactly like Jesus had prophesied, and they prepared for him the Passover meal.
Guzik: And they prepared the Passover: There seems to be a difference between the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) and John about the Passover. The implication in the synoptic gospels is that Jesus was crucified on the day after Passover, and that this meal was the day before. John seems to say that Jesus was crucified on the day of Passover itself, as a Passover lamb (Joh_18:28 and Joh_19:14).
i. “Possibly the best explanation is that there were different calendars in use. Jesus died as the Passover victims were being slain according to the official calendar; but he had held the Passover with his followers the previous evening, according to an unofficial calendar.” (Morris)
ii. None of the synoptic gospels mention a lamb at the Passover meal. Some believe that this is because they could not obtain one before the “official” day of Passover. Jesus may have wanted it this way to emphasize the idea that He was the Passover sacrifice.
Expositor’s: The mysterious and reticent indication of the place is easily understood. Jesus would not enable His enemies to lay hands upon Him before the time. His nights had hitherto been spent at Bethany; now first it was possible to arrest Him in the darkness, and hurry on the trial before the Galileans at the feast, strangers and comparatively isolated, could learn the danger of their “prophet of Galilee.” It was only too certain that when the blow was struck, the light and fickle adhesion of the populace would transfer itself to the successful party. Meanwhile, the prudence of Jesus gave Him time for the Last Supper, and the wonderful discourse recorded by St. John, and the conflict and victory in the Garden. When the priests learned, at a late hour, that Jesus might yet be arrested before morning, but that Judas could never watch Him anymore, the necessity for prompt action came with such surprise upon them, that the arrest was accomplished while they still had to seek false witnesses, and to consult how a sentence might best be extorted from the Governor. It is right to observe at every point, the mastery of Jesus, the perplexity and confusion of His foes.
And it is also right that we should learn to include, among the woes endured for us by the Man of Sorrows, this haunting consciousness that a base vigilance was to be watched against, that He breathed the air of treachery and vileness.
Here then, in view of the precautions thus forced upon our Lord, we pause to reflect upon the awful fall of Judas, the degradation of an apostle into a hireling, a traitor, and a spy. Men have failed to believe that one whom Jesus called to His side should sink so low.
Gill: And his disciples went forth,…. The two disciples, as the Arabic version has it, Peter and John, set out from Bethany to Jerusalem directly:
and came into the city; the city of Jerusalem:
and found as he had said unto them; a man bearing a pitcher of water, whom they followed to the house he went into, and addressed the master of the house, as Jesus had bid them; when he showed them an upper room, very commodious and fit for the purpose, as Christ had said…
and they made ready the passover; they bought a lamb; they had it killed in the temple, according to rule; and they brought it to the house, where they were to sup, and got it roasted; and provided unleavened bread, and wine, and bitter herbs, and every thing that was proper for the feast; See Gill on Mat_26:19.
MacLaren: III. The answer and blessedness of the unknown disciple.
(a) Jesus knows disciples whom the other disciples know not.
This man was one of the of ‘secret’ disciples. There is no excuse for shrinking from confession of His name; but it is blessed to believe that His eye sees many a ‘hidden one.’ He recognises their faith, and gives them work to do. Add the striking thought that though this man’s name is unrecorded by the Evangelist, it is known to Christ, was written in His heart, and, to use the prophetic image, ‘was graven on the palms of His hands.’
(b) The true blessedness is to be ready for whatever calls He may make on us. These may sometimes be sudden and unlooked for. But the preparation for obeying the most sudden or exacting summons of His is to have our hearts in fellowship with Him.
(c) The blessedness of His coming into our hearts, and accepting our service.
How honoured that man felt then! how much more so as years went on! how most of all now!
Our greatest blessedness that He does come into the narrow room of our hearts: ‘If any man open the door, I will sup with him.’
Mat 26:20 Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.
Guzik: When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve: The Jewish day began at sundown. Jesus ate the Passover and was killed on the same day according to the Jewish calendar.
Mat 26:21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
Mark 14:18 Over dinner, while they were reclining around the table, Jesus said, “Listen to the truth: One of you eating here with me is about to betray me.”
CTR: Which eateth with me — As my guest, a member of my family.
Shall betray me — Said with a double object–to show his disciples he was aware of the betrayal and as a final reproof to Judas, to startle and to cause him to think.
Guzik: (Mar_14:17-21) Jesus gives Judas a chance to repent.
He sat down with the twelve: At the first Passover God commanded them to eat the meal standing and ready to leave Egypt (Exo_12:11). Since Israel came into the Promised Land, they believed that they could eat the Passover sitting or reclining, because now they were at rest in the land God gave them.
b. One of you who eats with Me will betray Me: The disciples heard many surprising things from Jesus, but certainly this must have been one of the most surprising things they ever heard Him say. Not one of them suspected Judas, and the idea that one of them would seek to betray and kill Jesus must have seemed absurd.
PNT: One of you shall betray me, even he that eateth with me. The first clause is word for word the same in the accounts of Matthew, Mark, and John; the last clause, so graphic, and so full of grief, is peculiar to Mark. This, as well as Mar_14:20, indicate, that Judas reclined near Him. On the probable order of the various incidents narrated by the four Evangelists, see Mat_26:21.
MacLaren: As the Revised Version indicates more clearly than the Authorised, the purport of the announcement was not merely that the betrayer was an Apostle, but that he was to be known by his dipping his hand into the common dish at the same moment as our Lord. The prophetic psalm would have been abundantly fulfilled though Judas’s fingers had never touched Christ’s; but the minute accomplishment should teach us that Jewish prophecy was the voice of divine foreknowledge, and embraced small details as well as large tendencies. Many hands dipped with Christ’s, and so the sign was not unmistakably indicative, and hence was privately supplemented, as John tells us, by the giving of ‘the sop.’
Expositor’s: As the dreadful evening closes in, having come to the guest chamber “with the Twelve” — eleven whose hearts should fail them and one whose heart was dead, it was “as they sat and were eating” that the oppression of the traitor’s hypocrisy became intolerable, and the outraged One spoke out. “Verily I say unto you, one of you shall betray Me, even he that eateth with Me.” The words are interpreted as well as predicted in the plaintive Psalm which says, “Mine own familiar friend in whom I trusted, which did also eat of My bread, hath lifted up his heel against Me.” And perhaps they are less a disclosure than a cry.
Every attempt to mitigate the treason of Judas, every suggestion that he may only have striven too willfully to serve our Lord by forcing Him to take decided measures, must fail to account for the sense of utter wrong which breathes in the simple and piercing complaint “one of you . . . even he that eateth with Me.” There is a tone in all the narratives which is at variance with any palliation of the crime.
No theology is worth much if it fails to confess, at the centre of all the words and deeds of Jesus, a great and tender human heart. He might have spoken of teaching and warnings lavished on the traitor, and miracles which he had beheld in vain. What weighs heaviest on His burdened spirit is none of these; it is that one should betray Him who had eaten His bread.
Mat 26:22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?
Mark 14:19 Feeling deeply troubled by these words, one after another asked him, “You don’t mean me, do you?”
Expositor’s: The vagueness in the words “one of you shall betray Me,” was doubtless intended to suggest in all a great searching of heart. Coming just before the institution of the Eucharistic feast, this incident anticipates the command which it perhaps suggested: “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat.” It is good to be distrustful of one’s self. And if, as was natural, the Eleven looked one upon another doubting of whom He spake, they also began to say to Him, one by one (first the most timid, and then others as the circle narrowed), Is it I? For the prince of this world had something in each of them, — some frailty there was, some reluctance to bear the yoke, some longing for the forbidden ways of worldliness, which alarmed each at this solemn warning, and made him ask, Is it, can it be possible, that it is I? Religious self-sufficiency was not then the apostolic mood. Their questioning is also remarkable as a proof how little they suspected Judas, how firmly he bore himself even as those all-revealing words were spoken, how strong and wary was the temperament which Christ would fain have sanctified. For between the Master and him there could have been no more concealment
The apostles were right to distrust themselves, and not to distrust another. They were right, because they were so feeble, so unlike their Lord. But for Him there is no misgiving: His composure is serene in the hour of the power of darkness. And His perfect spiritual sensibility discerned the treachery, unknown to others, as instinctively as the eye resents the presence of a mote imperceptible to the hand.
MacLaren: The uncertainty as to the indication given by the token is reflected by the reiterated questions of the Apostles, which, in the Greek, are cast in a form that anticipates a negative answer: ‘Surely not I?’ Mark omits the audacious hypocrisy of Judas’s question in the same form, and Christ’s curt, sad answer which Matthew gives. His brief and vivid sketch is meant to fix attention on the unanimous shuddering horror of these faithful hearts at the thought that they could be thus guilty-a horror which was not the child of presumptuous self-confidence, but of hearty, honest love. They thought it impossible, as they felt the throbbing of their own hearts-and yet-and yet-might it not be? As they probed their hearts deeper, they became dimly aware of dark gulfs of possible unfaithfulness half visible there, and so betook themselves to their Master, and strengthened their loyalty by the question, which breathed at once detestation of the treason and humble distrust of themselves. It is well to feel and speak the strong recoil from sin of a heart loyal to Jesus. It is better to recognise the sleeping snakes, the possibilities of evil in ourselves, and to take to Christ our ignorance and self-distrust. It is wiser to cry ‘Is it I?’ than to boast, ‘Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.’ ‘Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe.’
CTR: One by one — The import would be, It is not I whom you have meant!
Even Judas joined in the general inquiry, “Is it I?”
Not overconfident, but each seeming to fear his own stability. They had the spirit of self- examination.
Hawker; Though I shall reserve the more striking circumstances concerning the traitor Judas, for one collected point of view, in what is said of him, Joh_13:18, etc. yet I cannot help remarking to the Reader in this place, the hardened state of this man’s mind, which could so coolly and deliberately return and take his place among the disciples, as though equally loving of his LORD, when he had then entered into an engagement with the Chief Priests to betray him. And when, one by one, the disciples put the question to what JESUS had said, that one of them would betray him, though conscious of his infamy, he should dare to brave the question also, and say, is it I? Oh! the obduracy which sin occasions! Matthew, in his relation of this solemn scene hath observed, that while the other disciples every one of them, in putting the question to JESUS, called him LORD; Judas called him Rabbi. And certain it is, that in the original the words are different: the one is LORD, and the other Rabbi or Master. See Mat_26:22; Mat_26:25. And as Rabbi or Master implies a nearness and affection which the more distant name of LORD doth not convey, to what an unequalled degree of infamy was the traitor by this time arrived?
Mat 26:23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.
Mark 14:20 He answered, “It is one of you twelve who has shared meals with me as an intimate friend.
CTR: One of the twelve — Judas was probably present at the Passover Supper partly for the purpose of learning the direction which Jesus and the others would take after the supper.
Despite the custom of the time, to be loyal and faithful to the one whose bread he ate.
Dippeth with me — Unleavened bread, resembling thick pancakes, was sometimes used instead of a spoon to sop up the essence of the meat.
Clarke: That dippeth with me in the dish – In the east, persons never eat together from one dish, except when a strong attachment subsists between two or more persons of the same caste; in such a case one invites another to come and sit by him and eat from the same dish. This custom seems to have existed among the Jews; and the sacred historian mentions this notice of our Lord’s, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish, to mark more strongly the perfidy of the character of Judas.
Guzik: It is one of the twelve, who dips with Me: In saying who dips with Me, Jesus is not singling out Judas (though Judas, sitting in the place of honor, would have been given the special portion). All the disciples dipped with Him, so this phrase identifies the betrayer as a friend.
i. In Middle Eastern culture, betraying a friend after eating a meal with him was and is regarded as the worst kind of treachery.
Mat 26:24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.
Clarke: The Son of man goeth – That is, is about to die. Going, going away, departing, etc., are frequently used in the best Greek and Latin writers, for death, or dying. The same words are often used in the Scriptures in the same sense.
Macknight: but wo to that man, &c. — In pronouncing this wo upon the man by whom he should be betrayed, our Lord manifestly shows that the foreknowledge and prediction that he should suffer, and that by the treachery of Judas, laid no antecedent necessity upon Judas of doing this action, for if it had, it not only would have lessened the wo due to him, but would have taken away all his guilt. For no guilt can attach to any action which a man is laid under an absolute necessity of doing, and which to him is unavoidable. All that the prediction of Judas’s treachery implies is, that God with certainty foreknew how his will, left entirely to its own freedom, would determine on this occasion: and, it must be observed, it would have determined in the same way, if such determination had neither been foreknown nor foretold. See note on 1Pe_1:2.
It had been good for that man if he had not been born — May not the same be said of every man that finally perishes? But who can reconcile this, if it were true of Judas alone, with the doctrine of universal salvation?
Mark 14:21 All that was prophesied of me, the Son of Man, is destined to soon take place, but it will be disastrous for the one who betrays the Son of Man. It would be far better for him if he had never been born!”
Guzik: Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Judas is rightly regarded as one of the most notorious sinners of all time. Even though his actions fulfilled prophecy (The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him), his own wicked motive condemned him. Judas will never be able to justify himself before God on the day of judgment by claiming, “I was just fulfilling prophecy.”
i. In the warning of Jesus we see a profound love for Judas. This is his last, fleeting opportunity to turn back from his evil plot. A remarkable thing to remember is that Jesus loved both Mary and Judas. We almost want to think that He loved Mary and hated Judas, but that isn’t the case. If we miss His love towards Judas – rejected love, to be sure – if we miss that love, we miss the whole story.
ii. This should warn us against having the attitude that our sin against another person doesn’t really matter if God somehow redeems it in their life. God redeemed it all when Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery but they still meant it for evil and were responsible for their sin (Gen_50:20).
Expositor’s: The traitor’s iron nerve is somewhat strained as he feels himself discovered, and when Jesus is about to hand a sop to him, he stretches over, and their hands meet in the dish. That is the appointed sign: “It is one of the Twelve, he that dippeth with Me in the dish,” and as he rushes out into the darkness, to seek his accomplices and his revenge, Jesus feels the awful contrast between the betrayer and the Betrayed. For Himself, He goeth as it is written of Him. This phrase admirably expresses the co-operation of Divine purpose and free human will, and by the woe that follows He refutes all who would make of God’s fore-knowledge an excuse for human sin. He then is not walking in the dark and stumbling, though men shall think Him falling. But the life of the false one is worse than utterly cast away: of him is spoken the dark and ominous word, never indisputably certain of any other soul, “Good were it for him if that man had not been born.”
CTR: Woe to that man — Judas’ intimate acquaintance with the Lord made him specially responsible. Judas had a sufficiency of light to condemn him so he would have no further opportunity and hope.
Let us beware of the little things which, like a switch upon a railway, turn a train into an entirely different track, and may lead us off far from the goal we at first desired to reach.
Had never been born — Evidently his was the sin unto death–the joys of his useless, wasted life did not overbalance its sorrows and anguish and his subsequent despair and suicide. Being unmoved by our Lord’s words is strong evidence of the willful intention which Marked Judas’ crime.
Leaves no ray of hope for his restoration. One of the most detestable characters known to the pages of history.
Mat 26:25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.
TPT: Notice that the other eleven disciples called Jesus “Lord.” Judas called him “teacher.”
Guzik: You have said it: Jesus did not say this to condemn Judas, but to call him to repentance. He said it with love in His eyes, and Jesus showed Judas that He loved him, even knowing his treachery.
CTR: Judas — Judas brazenly challenged the Master’s knowledge of his deceitful course and said, Is it I?
The Judas class are those whose hearts are not loyal, but selfish, and enter into the Adversary’s schemes heartily.
Master, is it I? — If he did not also ask, it would imply his acknowledgment that he was the one.
Such was his spirit of bravado.
Thou hast said — Yes, I refer to you.
Not a threat, not an imprecation, not a manifestation of bitterness, but merely an expression of sorrow and of pity. Our enemies, too, are to be pitied, not hated. The Master was gentle toward him to the very end, giving him every opportunity to relent and retrace his steps, down to the very last act.
The testimony that Jesus knew in advance who would betray him does not prove that Jesus knew this at the time when he chose Judas.
The divine program was carried out and the Scriptures were fulfilled; but the coincidence marks the divine foreknowledge, without implying that God in any manner instigated the treacherous conduct. It was not God’s foreknowledge that injured Judas, but his own wrong course; and thus it is with all.
Institution of the Lord’s Supper
Mat 26:26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
Barnes: As they were eating – As they were eating the paschal supper, near the close of the meal.
Clarke: Jesus took bread – This is the first institution of what is termed the Lord’s Supper. To every part of this ceremony, as here mentioned, the utmost attention should be paid.
To do this, in the most effectual manner, I think it necessary to set down the text of the three evangelists who have transmitted the whole account, collated with that part of St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians which speaks of the same subject, and which, he assures us, he received by Divine revelation. It may seem strange that, although John (13:1-38) mentions all the circumstances preceding the holy supper, and, from 14:1-31 the circumstances which succeeded the breaking of the bread, and in chapters 15, 16, and 17, the discourse which followed the administration of the cup; yet he takes no notice of the Divine institution at all. This is generally accounted for on his knowledge of what the other three evangelists had written; and on his conviction that their relation was true, and needed no additional confirmation, as the matter was amply established by the conjoint testimony of three such respectable witnesses.
Mat_26:26 Mar_14:22 Luk_22:19 1Co_11:23-24
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it (ευλογησας and blessed God) and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat, this is my body. And as they did eat, Jesus took bread and blessed (ευλογησας, blessed God) and brake it, and to them, and said, Take, eat, this is my body. And he took bread and gave thanks, (ευχαριϚησας, i.e. to God), and gave brake it, and gave unto them, saying: This is my body which is given for you: This do in remembrance of me. The Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread; And when he had given thanks (και ευχαριϚησος, i.e. to God) he brake it, and said, Take, eat, this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
Jesus took bread – Of what kind? Unleavened bread, certainly, because there was no other kind to be had in all Judea at this time; for this was the first day of unleavened bread, (Mat_26:17), i.e. the 14th of the month Nisan, when the Jews, according to the command of God, (Exo_12:15-20; Exo_23:15; Exo_34:25), were to purge away all leaven from their houses; for he who sacrificed the passover, having leaven in his dwelling, was considered to be such a transgressor of the Divine law as could no longer be tolerated among the people of God; and therefore was to be cut off from the congregation of Israel.
And blessed it – Both St. Matthew and St. Mark use the word ευλογησας, blessed, instead of ευχαριϚησας, gave thanks, which is the word used by St. Luke and St. Paul. … But what was it that our Lord blessed? Not the bread, though many think the contrary, being deceived by the word It, which is improperly supplied in our version. In all the four places referred to above, whether the word blessed or gave thanks is used, it refers not to the bread, but to God, the dispenser of every good. Our Lord here conforms himself to that constant Jewish custom, viz. of acknowledging God as the author of every good and perfect gift, by giving thanks on taking the bread and taking the cup at their ordinary meals. For every Jew was forbidden to eat, drink, or use any of God’s creatures without rendering him thanks; and he who acted contrary to this command was considered as a person who was guilty of sacrilege.
From this custom we have derived the decent and laudable one of saying grace (gratas thanks) before and after meat.
No blessing, therefore, of the elements is here intended; they were already blessed, in being sent as a gift of mercy from the bountiful Lord; but God the sender is blessed, because of the liberal provision he has made for his worthless creatures. Blessing and touching the bread are merely Popish ceremonies, unauthorized either by Scripture or the practice of the pure Church of God; necessary of course to those who pretend to transmute, by a kind of spiritual incantation, the bread and wine into the real body and blood of Jesus Christ; a measure the grossest in folly, and most stupid in nonsense, to which God in judgment ever abandoned the fallen spirit of man.
And brake it – We often read in the Scriptures of breaking bread, but never of cutting it. The Jewish people had nothing similar to our high-raised loaf: their bread was made broad and thin, and was consequently very brittle, and, to divide it, there was no need of a knife.
The breaking of the bread I consider essential to the proper performance of this solemn and significant ceremony: because this act was designed by our Lord to shadow forth the wounding, piercing, and breaking of his body upon the cross; and, as all this was essentially necessary to the making a full atonement for the sin of the world, so it is of vast importance that this apparently little circumstance, the breaking of the bread, should be carefully attended to, that the godly communicant may have every necessary assistance to enable him to discern the Lord’s body, while engaged in this most important and Divine of all God’s ordinances.
And gave it to the disciples – Not only the breaking, but also the Distribution, of the bread are necessary parts of this rite.
“That the breaking of this bread to be distributed,” says Dr. Whitby, “is a necessary part of this rite is evident, first, by the continual mention of it by St. Paul and all the evangelists, when they speak of the institution of this sacrament, which shows it to be a necessary part of it. 2dly, Christ says, Take, eat, this is my body, Broken for you, 1Co_11:24. But when the elements are not broken, it can be no more said, This is my body broken for you, than where the elements are not given. 3dly, Our Lord said, Do this in remembrance of me: i.e. ‘Eat this bread, broken in remembrance of my body broken on the cross:’ now, where no body broken is distributed, there, nothing can be eaten in memorial of his broken body. Lastly, The apostle, by saying, The bread which we Break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? sufficiently informs us that the eating of his broken body is necessary to that end, 1Co_10:10. Hence it was that this rite, of distributing bread broken, continued for a thousand years
This is my body – Here it must be observed that Christ had nothing in his hands, at this time, but part of that unleavened bread which he and his disciples had been eating at supper, and therefore he could mean no more than this, viz. that the bread which he was now breaking represented his body, which, in the course of a few hours, was to be crucified for them.
St. Luke and St. Paul add a circumstance here which is not noticed either by St. Matthew or St. Mark. After, this is my body, the former adds, which is given for you; the latter, which is broken for you;
Guzik: . Take, eat; this is My body . . . This is the blood of the new covenant: Jesus didn’t give the normal explanation of the meaning of each of the foods. He reinterpreted them in Himself, and the focus was no longer on the suffering of Israel in Egypt, but on the sin-bearing suffering of Jesus on their behalf.
Take means that it won’t be forced upon you. You have to receive it.
Eat means that this is absolutely vital for you. Without food and drink, we perish. Without Jesus, we perish. It also means that you must take Jesus into your innermost being.
CTR: As they did eat — Christ’s death should not be celebrated monthly, quarterly or weekly, but, as the archtype of the Jewish Passover, should properly be celebrated annually.
Jesus took bread — In the Passover a literal lamb was used to typify Jesus, but now the breaking of bread represented the death of Jesus.
The unleavened bread memorializes the purity, the sinlessness, of him who gave himself to be the ransom-price for all.
“I am the bread of life.” (Joh_6:35)
And brake it — Represented the death of Jesus. Represented the sacrifice of Christ’s humanity for our redemption. It must be “broken” in order to be appropriated; it was also necessary that he be broken in death, sacrificed for our sins, ere we could appropriate his merit and enjoy everlasting life.
Take, eat — Symbolically represents our partaking of the fleshly perfection of the man Jesus.
The appropriation to ourselves, by faith, of justification to human life-right. The rights and privileges which Christ surrendered may be appropriated by all who accept him.
This is my body — Not that the bread was turned into his actual body and the wine into his actual blood, for he still had his actual body and blood; but that they symbolically represented his body and blood.
This represents me, the antitypical Lamb; it represents my flesh. A figure of speech. He would not have meant as some believe that the bread turned into his actual flesh, for he still had his flesh. The broken bread represented the sacrifice of Christ’s humanity for our redemption.
To call their minds from the typical lamb to himself, the antitype, and to show them that it would be no longer proper to observe a feature of the Law which he was about to fulfill.
Expositor’s: HOW much does the Gospel of St. Mark tell us about the Supper of the Lord? He is writing to Gentiles. He is writing probably before the sixth chapter of St. John was penned, certainly before it reached his readers. Now we must not undervalue the reflected light thrown by one Scripture upon another. Still less may we suppose that each account conveys all the doctrine of the Eucharist. But it is obvious that St. Mark intended his narrative to be complete in itself, even if not exhaustive. No serious expositor will ignore the fullness of any word or action in which later experience can discern meanings, truly involved, although not apparent at the first. That would be to deny the inspiring guidance of Him who sees the end from the beginning. …
But this narrative conveys enough to make the Lord’s Supper, for every believing heart, the supreme help to faith, both intellectual and spiritual, and the mightiest of promises, and the richest gift of grace.
It is hard to imagine that any reader would conceive that the bread in Christ’s hands had become His body, which still lived and breathed; or that His blood, still flowing in His veins, was also in the cup He gave to His disciples. No resort could be made to the glorification of the risen Body as an escape from the perplexities of such a notion, for in whatever sense the words are true, they were spoken of the body of His humiliation, before which still lay the agony and the tomb.
So then, Christ did not look forward to His death as to ruin or overthrow. The Supper is an institution which could never have been devised at any later period. It comes to us by an unbroken line from the Founder’s hand, and attested by the earliest witnesses. None could have interpolated a new ordinance into the simple worship of the early Church, and the last to suggest such a possibility should be those skeptics who are deeply interested in exaggerating the estrangements which existed from the first, and which made the Jewish Church a keen critic of Gentile innovation, and the Gentiles of a Jewish novelty.
Guzik: a. Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it: The bread and the cup of wine were elements used in the Passover. Jesus filled them with new meaning, as tools to commemorate a new act of redemption, and to demonstrate our personal fellowship with Jesus Himself.
i. This is how we remember what Jesus did for us. We cannot eat the bread without remembering how Jesus was broken, pierced, and beaten with stripes for our redemption. We cannot drink the cup without remembering that His blood was poured out on Calvary for us.
ii. This is how we fellowship with Jesus. Because His redemption has reconciled us to God, we can now sit down to a meal with Jesus, and enjoy each other’s company.
Jewish Awareness Ministries: During the Seder, the cup of each participant is filled, and drank four separate times. I found that each of these cups, with their own order, blessing, and name, symbolize a part of God’s four-fold promise of redemption found in Exodus 6:6, 7.
The tradition of the four cups of wine were not in place when the Hebrew slaves experienced the first Passover, but it was definitely practiced by the first century.
Cup1: Sanctification; Cup 2: Praise; Cup 3: Redemption; Cup 4: Acceptance
Ken Butler: (comment on the above) I had heard that possibly the fourth cup was what JeRenesus referred to when He said, “I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine,” but when I read your notes it became more real. It brought tears to my eyes to know that we will commune with Him personally one day.
Mat 26:27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
Mat 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Mark 14:23 Then taking the cup of wine and giving praises to the Father, he declared the new covenant with them. And as each one drank from the cup,
Mark 14:24 he said to them, “This is my blood, which seals the new covenant poured out for many.
CTR: He took the cup — Symbolical and pointed forward to his own death. Representing crushing of the grapes, the blood of the grapes, the Master’s blood, the life sacrificed, poured out, and their lives with him.
We not only need nourishment to come back to God and his favor, but we need the precious blood to release us from the condemnation of justice.
They all drank of it — Having the same significance of the broken bread. Partaking in it also meant the appropriation of the benefits of his sacrifice, thus securing our justification.
It was Jesus’ cup, of which he drank, that he gave to his disciples to finish. Thus, symbolically, we are invited to be partakers of the sufferings of Christ. (2Co_1:5-7)
This is my blood of — The blood prepared in advance of the covenant, wherewith to seal it and make it obligatory. The new testament — A covenant of mercy. Before our Lord could become the Mediator he must seal the New Covenant with his own precious blood.
Jesus’ death constituted the blood which seals, makes efficacious, the New Covenant. But the Church is blessed in advance of that New Covenant, and their blood is counted as part of the sacrifice which seals that covenant. The New Covenant will not become operative until the cup of the Lord’s sufferings which is left behind has been drained in death by the last member of his Body. The New Law Covenant will be inaugurated by Messiah, its Mediator, at his second advent.
Which is shed — “To give his life a ransom (the redemptive price) for many.” (Mat_20:28) Plainly presenting Christ’s death as the means through which he gained ability to benefit many.
For many — The world in general.
Guzik: He gave thanks: In the ancient Greek language, thanks is the word eucharist. This is why the commemoration of the Lord’s table is sometimes called the Eucharist.
38x: to thank, Luk_17:16; absol. to give thanks, Mat_15:36; Mat_26:27; pass. to be made a matter of thankfulness, 2Co_1:11.
Clarke: After giving the bread, the discourse related, John 14:1-31, inclusive, is supposed by Bishop Newcome to have been delivered by our Lord, for the comfort and support of his disciples under their present and approaching trials.
Mat_26:27-29 Mar_14:23-25 Luk_22:20 1Co_11:25
And he took the cup, and gave thanks (ευχαριϚησας), and gave it to them, saying: Drink ye all of it. And he took the cup; and when he had given thanks, (ευχαριϚησας), he gave it to them; and they all drank of it. Likewise also the cup, after supper, saying: After the same manner also, he took the cup, when he had supped, saying:
For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many or the remission of sins. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many. This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you. This cup is the New Testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.
After this, our Lord resumes that discourse which is found in the 15th, 16th, and 17th chapters of John, beginning with the last verse of chap. 14, Arise, let us go hence. Then succeed the following words, which conclude the whole ceremony.
Mat_26:30 Mar_14:26 Luk_22:39 Joh_14:1
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives. And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives. And he came out, and went as he was wont to the Mount of Olives. And his disciples also followed him. When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Kedron.
From the preceding harmonized view of this important transaction, as described by three Evangelists and one Apostle, we see the first institution, nature, and design of what has been since called The Lord’s Supper. To every circumstance, as set down here, and the mode of expression by which such circumstances are described, we should pay the deepest attention.
Mat 26:29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.
Mark 14:25 RV Verily I say unto you, I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.
Guzik: Until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God: Jesus has not yet celebrated a Passover in heaven. He is waiting for all His people to be gathered to Him and then there will be a great supper – the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev_19:9). This is the fulfillment in the kingdom of God Jesus longed for.
i. “There is no Lord’s Supper in heaven, for there it is ‘fulfilled’ in the marriage-feast of the Lamb.” (Cole)
ii. “Among devout Jews it was common to remain together at the table for several hours after the conclusion of the meal, deep in conversation about God’s past and future acts of redemption.” (Lane)
CTR: Drink no more — His work, his drinking of the cup, was finished the next day on Calvary. There he completed the drinking of the cup which the Father had poured for him.
I drink it new — The new wine–the joys, rights and privileges of the divine nature–in that kingdom. Having a new and blessed significance, being commemorative of the heroism of their faith under the most crucial tests, and a rejoicing together in the victory of that faith.
Foretells the final triumph of Christ and the Church.
The kingdom of God — At our Lord’s second advent.
Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial
Mat 26:30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
Mark 14:26 Then they sang a psalm and afterwards left for the Mount of Olives.
Hawker: There is somewhat truly interesting in the hymn the LORD and his disciples sung at the table. JESUS knew what the events of that night would be. He had in contemplation Gethsemane, and all his sorrows. But these things stopped not the Hallel the Jews always used at the Passover. Some have thought that this Hallel was the 114th Psalm, which celebrates the night of the Passover, and the going forth from Egypt. Reader! Ought not our celebration of the LORD’s Supper, in the contemplation of the LORD’s love, be always accompanied with our Hallel; our song of Moses and the LAMB?
Expositor’s: What concerns us more is the revelation of a calm and beautiful nature, at every point in the narrative. Jesus knows and has declared that His life is now closing, and His blood already “being shed for many.” But that does not prevent Him from joining with them in singing a hymn. It is the only time when we are told that our Savior sang, evidently because no other occasion needed mention; a warning to those who draw confident inferences from such facts as that “none ever said he smiled,” or that there is no record of His having been sick. It would surprise such theorists to observe the number of biographies much longer than any of the Gospels, which also mention nothing of the kind.
The Psalms usually sung at the close of the feast are Psa_115:1-18 and the three following. The first tells how the dead praise not the Lord, but we will praise Him from this time forth forever. The second proclaims that the Lord hath delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. The third bids all the nations praise the Lord, for His merciful kindness is great and His truth endureth forever. And the fourth rejoices because, although all nations compassed me about, yet I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord; and because the stone which the builders rejected is become the head stone of the corner. Memories of infinite sadness were awakened by the words which had so lately rung around His path: “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.;” but His voice was strong to sing, “Bind the sacrifice with cords, even to the horns of the altar;” and it rose to the exultant close, “Thou art my God, and I will praise Thee: Thou art my God, I will exalt Thee. O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endureth for ever.”
This hymn, from the lips of the Perfect One, could be no “dying swan-song.” It uplifted that more than heroic heart to the wonderful tranquillity which presently said, “When I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.” It is full of victory. And now they go unto the Mount of Olives.
CTR: They went out — Let us do the same. Let each go home with heart full, prolonging our communion and fellowship with the Master.
The mount of Olives — A distance of perhaps a mile.
There is a small enclosure now on the side of Mt. Olivet, about 150 feet square, which is reputed to be the place of our Lord’s agonizing prayer. It contains eight very old and very gnarled olive trees, and whether the exact spot or not, it represents it sufficiently well.
Guzik: When they had sung a hymn: We don’t often think of Jesus singing, but He did. He lifted His voice in adoration and worship to God the Father. We can endlessly wonder what His voice sounded like, but we know for certain that He sang with more than His voice, and He lifted His whole heart up in praise. This reminds us that God wants to be praised with singing. Well more than 40 different passages in the Psalms show us how God loves to be honored with singing.
• I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. (Psa_9:2)
• Sing praise to the LORD, You saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. (Psa_30:4)
• Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! (Psa_47:6)
• For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with understanding. (Psa_47:7)
• I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. (Psa_57:9)
• Sing out the honor of His name; make His praise glorious. (Psa_66:2)
• It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High. (Psa_92:1)
• Then they believed His words; they sang His praise. (Psa_106:12)
• While I live I will praise the LORD; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. (Psa_146:2)
• Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful. (Psa_147:1)
• Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, and His praise in the assembly of saints. (Psa_149:1)
i. It is remarkable that Jesus could sing on this night before His crucifixion. Could you sing in such circumstances? Will you let Jesus be your worship leader? “What! A Christian silent when others are praising his Master? No; he must join in the song. Satan tries to make God’s people dumb, but he cannot, for the Lord has not a tongue-tied child in all his family. They can all speak, and they can all cry, even if they cannot all sing, and I think there are times when they can all sing; yea, they must, for you know the promise, ‘Then shall the tongue of the dumb sing.’ Surely, when Jesus leads the tune, if there should be any silent ones in the Lord’s family, they must begin to praise the name of the Lord.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “What is singing but emotional expression? Oh! The value and the power of emotion. Evil emotion slays the Lord of life and glory! Pure emotion makes possible the saving of the slayers.” (Morgan)
b. Sung a hymn: It is wonderful that Jesus sang, but what did He sing? A Passover meal always ended with singing three Psalms known as the Hallel, Psalms 116-118. Think of how the words of these Psalms would have ministered to Jesus as He sang them on the night before His crucifixion:
• The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I implore You, deliver my soul!” (Psa_116:3-4)
• For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. (Psa_116:8-9)
• I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD now in the presence of all His people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. (Psa_116:13-15)
• Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples! (Psa_117:1)
• You pushed me violently, that I might fall, but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. (Psa_118:13-14)
• I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. The LORD has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death. Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, and I will praise the LORD. (Psa_118:17-19)
• The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. (Psa_118:22-23)
• God is the LORD, and He has given us light; bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You. (Psa_118:27-28)
i. “When Jesus arose to go the Gethsemane, Psalms 118 was upon his lips. It provided an appropriate description of how God would guide his Messiah through distress and suffering to glory.” (Lane)
c. They went to the Mount of Olives: “Jesus tarried with them in the Upper Room for the wonderful discourse and prayer in John 14-17. They may have gone out to the street after Joh_14:31.” (Robertson)
i. “Our Lord knew that his time was now come when he must be actually delivered into the hands of his enemies. That he might not therefore cause any disturbance either to the master of the family wherein he was, or to the city, though it was now midnight, he goeth out of the city.” (Ironside)
And when they had sung a hymn – Υμνησαντες means, probably, no more than a kind of recitative reading or chanting. As to the hymn itself, we know, from the universal consent of Jewish antiquity, that it was composed of Psa_113:1-9, Psa_114:1-8, 115, 116, Psa_117:1-2, and 118, termed by the Jews הלל halel, from הללו־יה halelu-yah, the first word in Psa_113:1-9. These six Psalms were always sung at every paschal solemnity. They sung this great hillel on account of the five great benefits referred to in it; viz.
1. The Exodus from Egypt, Psa_114:1. When Israel went out of Egypt, etc.
2. The miraculous division of the Red Sea, Psa_114:3. The sea saw it and fled.
3. The promulgation of the law, Psa_114:4. The mountains skipped like lambs.
4. The resurrection of the dead, Psa_116:9. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
5. The passion of the Messiah, Psa_115:1. Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, etc.
Mat 26:31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
Zec 13:7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.
Clarke: All ye shall be offended – Or rather, Ye will all be stumbled – παντες υμεις σκανδαλισθησεσθε – ye will all forsake me, and lose in a great measure your confidence in me.
This night – The time of trial is just at hand.
I will smite the shepherd – It will happen to you as to a flock of sheep, whose shepherd has been slain – the leader and guardian being removed, the whole flock shall be scattered, and be on the point of becoming a prey to ravenous beasts.
Mark 14:27 KJV And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.
Gill: And Jesus saith unto them,…. As they were going to the Mount of Olives. The Persic version reads, in this place; meaning the Mount of Olives, having got thither:
CTR: Ye shall be offended — Discouraged, stumbled, amazed; the thing they were not expecting would occur.
Sheep shall be scattered — Knowing how desolate, aimless and perplexed they would feel, it would be his chief concern in the 40 days between his resurrection and ascension to gather them again and re-establish their faith in him as the Messiah.
The Lord willed that severe testings should come to the sheep through the Master.
Guzik: All of you will be made to stumble: Jesus says this not to condemn His disciples, but to show them that He really is in command of the situation, and to demonstrate that the Scriptures regarding the suffering of the Messiah must be fulfilled.
i. This was not the first time Jesus warned Peter and the other disciples that they would forsake Him. From a careful reconstruction of the Gospels, we find that Jesus first warned them about this in the upper room, now again in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Mat 26:32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
Guzik: After I have been raised: This shows that Jesus is already looking beyond the cross. He has His eyes fixed on the joy set before Him (Heb_12:2).
Gill: But after that I am risen,…. From the dead, which, for their comfort, he assures them of; though they would be offended and discouraged at the seizing, and condemning, and crucifixion of him:
I will go before you into Galilee; the place of their nativity, and where he had often conversed with them; See Gill on Mat_26:32.
Popular: The Way to Gethsemane. In close agreement with Matthew. The words ‘because of me this night’ (Mar_14:27) should be omitted. In Mar_14:28, Mark introduces a stronger word, howbeit, ‘notwithstanding’ this scattering, you will be gathered again in Galilee.
Mat 26:33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.
Mat 26:34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
Mark 14:29 KJV But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.
CTR: Yet will not I — Peter’s courage, manifested on so many occasions, was really his weak point. He was trusting too much to his flesh, and not looking to God and prayerfully watching against temptation.
Perhaps it was remembering these words that he drew his sword in the Lord’s defense. (Joh_18:10)
Guzik: Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be: We wonder how Peter could ever say such a thing. Tragically, Peter was unaware of both the spiritual reality and the spiritual battle that Jesus clearly saw. Peter only looked to how he felt at the moment, and at the moment he felt pretty brave.
i. However, when you walk on feelings everything can change pretty quickly. Soon, Peter will be intimidated before a humble servant girl, and before her Peter will deny that he even knows Jesus.
ii. “It is sometimes easier to bear a great load for Christ than a small one. Some of us could be martyrs at the stake more easily that confessors among sneering neighbors.” (Maclaren)
Mark 14:30 KJV And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.
Gill: And Jesus saith unto him, verily I say unto thee,…. As confident as thou art of standing by me, and abiding with me;
that this day, which was then begun; for the Jews reckoned their days from evening, as in Gen_1:5;
even in this night; this night to be observed, this night of the passover, before it is past:
before the cock crow twice; for there was a first and second cock crowing, the one at midnight, and the other near break of day, and which last is properly the cock crowing: the word “twice” is left out in the Ethiopic version:
thou shalt deny me thrice; as he did; See Gill on Mat_26:34.
CTR: Thou shalt deny me — Peter was trusting too much to his flesh, and not looking to God and prayerfully watching against temptation. As our Lord forewarned Peter of coming trials, so he has forewarned us of the great crucial test near at hand. Siftings are permitted, not because the Lord has no interest in us, but because only those who can stand siftings, trials and tests, are fit for places in the kingdom.
Perhaps the Lord allowed this for our sakes, that we might realize we need to put our confidence in the Lord.
Guzik: Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times: Peter, despite his bold proclamation that he will never be made to stumble, will fail in what he thought was his strong area – courage and boldness. Through this solemn warning Jesus gave Peter an opportunity to take heed and consider his own weakness.
i. It was an opportunity that Peter sadly did not take: he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” Jesus knew Peter far better than Peter did, and in over-estimating himself, Peter was set up for a fall.
ii. He spoke more vehemently: “This strong compound adverb only in Mark and probably preserves Peter’s own statement of the remark.” (Robertson)
iii. The rest of the disciples also overestimated their strength and did not rely on the Lord in the critical hour: And they all said likewise. The Apostle Paul warned us against falling where we think we are strong: Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall (1Co_10:12). When we think we are beyond the reach of some sins, we are ready for a fall.
iv. This shows is that friends will fail us, but the Lord God never will. If Jesus suffered times when He was forsaken by all, we can expect to experience similar times.
v. This shows us that even if we deny Jesus or forsake Him, He still loves us and wants to woo us to repentance and restoration. We perhaps would have expected Jesus to give to Peter and the rest as good as they gave to Him – He might have forsaken or abandoned them, but He never did. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. (2Ti_2:13)
vi. We often want to tell the person who is full of himself and flying high “it’s not all about you.” However, the person who has failed and been and laid low needs to hear the same thing. “It’s not all about you. Jesus’ love and restoration is greater than your failure. Come to Jesus and let it be about Him, not you.”
Mat 26:35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.
Gill: But he spake the more vehemently,…. With a louder voice; with more spirit and eagerness; in a more peremptory and self-confident way.
If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. The Syriac version adds, “O my Lord”, my dear Lord, I will never deny thee upon any consideration whatever; and the Persic version, O Lord:
likewise also said they all; as he said, so said “all the disciples”
CTR: I will not deny thee — Peter realized no dread, no fear. Hence he did little watching and praying in comparison with what he should have done, and self-confidence led to his undoing for a time.
Said they all — They declared themselves loyal and ready for death. How little they knew what severe trials would come upon them.
The mistake many make is not realizing how severe the trials and temptations may become, in not realizing the necessity of heavenly assistance in every time of need.
Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
Mat 26:36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
SA: The hour is late, probably near midnight, and the disciples are weary after a long day
CTR: Jesus with them — Because he loved them and knew they loved him, he permitted them to accompany him to the place of prayer that they might watch and pray with him.
Gethsemane — Oil-press place. Not a wild woods nor a public garden, but an olive orchard; supposed to have been the home of the mother of Mark, reported to have been a wealthy widow, a friend of Jesus’ cause. Tradition has it that this garden belonged to the family of which the apostles John and James were members.
Sit ye here — As a kind of outer guard.
While I go and pray — That he might find grace to help in time of need.
Barnes: Luke says that Jesus “went as he was wont” – that is, accustomed – “to the Mount of Olives.” Probably he had been in the habit of retiring from Jerusalem to that place for meditation and prayer, thus enforcing by his example what he had so often done by his precepts the duty of retiring from the noise and bustle of the world to hold communion with God.
Gethsemane – This word is made up either of two Hebrew words, signifying “valley of fatness” – that is, a fertile valley; or of two words, signifying “an olive-press,” given to it, probably, because the place was filled with olives.
Popular NT: ‘Gethsemane’ means ‘oil-press.’ It was probably an enclosed olive-yard, containing a press and garden tower, perhaps a dwelling-house. It was at the western foot of the Mount of Olives beyond the Kedron (‘black brook’), so called from its dark waters, which were still more darkened by the blood from the foot of the altar in the temple (see note on Mat_26:17). The spot now pointed out as Gethsemane lies on the right of the path to the Mount of Olives. The wall has been restored. Eight olive trees remain, all of them very old (each one has paid a special tax since A. D. 636), but scarcely of the time of our Lord, since Titus, during the siege of Jerusalem, had all the trees of the district cut down. Dr. Thomson (The Land and the Book) thinks the garden was in a more secluded place further on, to the left of the path.—The name has been connected with the bruising of our Lord for our sins.
And pray. Our Lord speaks of the coming struggle as prayer. So Abraham (Gen_22:5), when he, almost on the same spot, was going to the greatest trial of his faith.
Genesis 22:5-6 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
Mat 26:37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Expositors: And now Gethsemane is reached. The olive trees which in the daytime give a shadow from the heat will now afford seclusion, though the moon is at the full. Here, then, the Son of man will spend some time with God, alone, before He is betrayed into the hands of sinners; and yet, true Son of man as He is, He shrinks from being left alone in that dread hour, and clings to the love and sympathy of those who have been with Him in His temptations hitherto. So He leaves eight of the disciples at the entering in of the olive grove, and takes with Him into the darkness the three most in sympathy with Him-the same three who had been the sole witnesses of His power in raising from the dead the daughter of Jairus, and had alone seen His glory on the holy mount. But even these three cannot go with Him all the way. He will have them as near as possible; and yet He must be alone. Did He think of the passage, “I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with me”?
That solitude may not be invaded. We can only, like the disciples of old, look reverently at it from afar. There are probably many true disciples who can get no nearer than the edge of the darkness; those who are closest in sympathy may be able to obtain a nearer view, but even those who like John have leant on His breast can know it only in part-in its depth it passeth knowledge. Jesus is alone in Gethsemane yet, and of the people there is none with Him.
Clarke: And very heavy – Overwhelmed with anguish – αδημονειν. This word is used by the Greeks to denote the most extreme anguish which the soul can feel – excruciating anxiety and torture of spirit.
CTR: To be sorrowful — Because of the coming shame of trial, conviction and execution as a blasphemer and seditionist. The perfect man must have suffered far more than would have been possible for a fallen one. No doubt the thought of the extinguishment of life was an important factor in our Lord’s sorrow.
And very heavy — Oppressed with the fear that in some manner he might have failed of perfection and that his death might mean extinction. None can read this account thoughtfully without realizing that there must be something wrong in the popular theory that our Lord Jesus was his own Heavenly Father. His was no coarse, stoical nature, insensitive to pain, shame and loss; nor was it a proud, self-centered nature, which stood aloof from human fellowship.
Robertson: The word for sore troubled (adēmonein) is of doubtful etymology. There is an adjective adēmos equal to apodēmos meaning “not at home,” “away from home,” like the German unheimisch, unheimlich. But whatever the etymology, the notion of intense discomfort is plain. The word adēmonein occurs in P.Oxy. II, 298,456 of the first century A.D. where it means “excessively concerned.” See note on Php_2:26 where Paul uses it of Epaphroditus. Moffatt renders it here “agitated.” The word occurs sometimes with aporeō to be at a loss as to which way to go. The Braid Scots has it “sair putten-aboot.” Here Matthew has also “to be sorrowful” (lupeisthai), but Mark (Mar_14:33) has the startling phrase greatly amazed and sore troubled (ekthambeisthai kai adēmonein), a “feeling of terrified surprise.”
Mat 26:38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
Guzik: He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed: Of course, Jesus is disturbed from knowing the physical horror waiting for Him at the cross. As He came to Gethsemane from central Jerusalem, He crossed the Brook Kidron, and saw in the full moon of Passover the stream flowing red with sacrificial blood from the temple.
My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death: But more so, Jesus is distressed at the spiritual horror that awaits Him on the cross. Jesus would stand in the place of guilty sinners and receive all the spiritual punishment sinners deserve; He who knew no sin would be sin for us (2Co_5:21).
SA: He is distressed both by what is coming but also by His flesh’s desire to say no to it • That helps us appreciate what Matthew means when he describes Jesus’ state of mind as deeply grieved to the point of death
◦ You know, when our teenager says he is starving to death or she is so embarrassed she could just die, we know it’s hyperbole • But when Jesus says He is deeply grieved to a point of death, He means it literally • Jesus was so disturbed by the thought of what was coming that He felt as though the stress inside Him would almost kill Him ◦ For example, Luke reports that Jesus experienced a rare condition that night called hematohidrosis which is brought about by extreme stress • The small capillaries at the surface of the skin burst under pressure from the body’s stress response • Then blood seeps out of the body through nearby sweat glands making the person appear to be sweating blood ◦ Jesus experienced a kind of stress few have ever known which tells us that His anticipation that night was as much torture as the actual events
And Jesus has asked His disciples to accompany Him in prayer to comfort Him in His time of distress • Company in times of stress is comforting, but there was a larger, more important reason they needed to be there • Notice Jesus says in v.38 that the three disciples should remain with Him to “keep watch with me…” ◦ What was Jesus asking them to watch for? One obvious answer might be that they should watch for the approach of Judas and the soldiers • But that doesn’t make sense, because they didn’t know Judas was coming with soldiers • Moreover, why would Jesus need them to watch for that…it’s not as if He would miss Judas and the soldiers when they arrived • Jesus has something else on His mind and we see what that is in the next section
Barnes: Tarry ye here and watch with me – The word rendered “watch” means, literally, to abstain from sleep; then to be vigilant, or to guard against danger. Here it seems to mean to sympathize with him, to unite with him in seeking divine support, and to prepare themselves for approaching dangers.
Robertson: Watch with me (grēgoreite met’ emou). This late present from the perfect egrēgora means to keep awake and not go to sleep. The hour was late and the strain had been severe, but Jesus pleaded for a bit of human sympathy as he wrestled with his Father. It did not seem too much to ask. He had put his sorrow in strong language, “even unto death” (heōs thanatou) that ought to have alarmed them.
CTR: Exceeding sorrowful — He was wondering whether or not he had done everything to the Father’s pleasement. The disciples were at a loss to understand his sadness.
He was greatly amazed and sore troubled. The Greek carries the thought of loneliness, home-sickness, friendlessness. Not only with the mental realization of death, but also the desolation of his disciples forsaking him, the sorrowful reflections on the irretrievable loss of Judas, the course of the Jewish nation, and the degradation of the whole guilty world. In addition to all this was his knowledge that every jot and tittle of the Law with reference to his sacrifice must be perfectly fulfilled.
We are glad that Jesus was not one of those cold, stoical icebergs, but full of tender feelings and sensibilities, and consequently able to sympathize with those most tender and delicate.
Even unto death — I feel as if I would die now, without coming into that great crisis before me.
The death of Jesus began at Jordan, merely culminating at Calvary. R5104:2
An agony which, of itself, would have worn him out shortly, an intense mental and nervous strain which caused him to sweat great drops of blood.
Mat 26:39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
Guzik: If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me: God the Father would never deny the Son any request, because Jesus prayed according to the heart and will of the Father. Since Jesus drank the cup of judgment at the cross, we know that it is not possible for salvation to come any other way. Salvation by the work of Jesus at the cross is the only possible way; if there is any other way to be made right before God, then Jesus died an unnecessary death.
SA: Also, this is the only time in the Gospels where we see Jesus asking for something that the Father cannot give Him • But when you look more closely at Jesus’ prayer, we see clearly that Jesus knew that the Father couldn’t grant the request
• For example, Jesus gave this word to Isaiah: Is. 53:4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. Is. 53:5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
◦ Moreover, Jesus can’t be against the Father’s will or else Jesus ceases being a voluntary sacrifice for our sin, which is also against Scripture • The Bible says that Christ goes willingly to the cross for the sins of the World as an act of sacrificial love for Creation • And elsewhere Jesus says that the definition of love is that we lay our life down for another • So the voluntary nature of Jesus’ death is critical to demonstrating the love of God ◦ So in His prayer, Jesus is careful to tell the Father that He should ignore Jesus’ request if it goes against His will • Jesus asked for the trial to be taken away but only if that is what the Father willed • So in a sense, the Father gave Jesus exactly what Jesus requested
Barnes: And he went a little further – That is, at the distance that a man could conveniently cast a stone (Luke).
Fell on his face – Luke says “he kneeled down.” He did both.
He first kneeled, and then, in the fervency of his prayer and the depth of his sorrow, he fell with his face on the ground, denoting the deepest anguish and the most earnest entreaty. This was the usual posture of prayer in times of great earnestness. See Num_16:22; 2Ch_20:18; Neh_8:6.
If it be possible – That is, if the world can be redeemed – if it be consistent with justice, and with maintaining the government of the universe, that people should be saved without this extremity of sorrow, let it be done. There is no doubt that if it had been possible it would have been done; and the fact that these sufferings were “not” removed, and that the Saviour went forward and bore them without mitigation, shows that it was not consistent with the justice of God and with the welfare of the universe that people should be saved without the awful sufferings of “such an atonement.”
Let this cup – These bitter sufferings. These approaching trials. The word cup is often used in this sense, denoting sufferings. See the notes at Mat_20:22.
Not as I will, but as thou wilt – He chose rather that the high purpose of God should be done, than that that purpose should be abandoned from regard to the fears of his human nature. In this he has left a model of prayer in all times of affliction. It is right, in times of calamity, to seek deliverance. Like the Saviour, also, in such seasons we should, we must submit cheerfully to the will of God, confident that in all these trials he is wise, and merciful, and good.
CTR: A little farther — Realizing the impossibility of even his dearest friends appreciating his sorrowful condition.
“I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with me” (Isa_63:3). He was alone because he alone had been begotten of the holy Spirit.
Having gone to the Father alone, his thoughts turned inward upon himself and his relationship to the Father, and outward upon the public shame of his trial.
Fell on his face — Upon his knees, with his face to the earth. The mental anguish seemed to come upon him here with a force of poignancy he had never before experienced.
And prayed — Even the perfect human nature was not equal to such an emergency without divine aid. R1801:4
O my Father — No one can thoughtfully read these words without feeling there is something thoroughly incorrect in the prevalent idea that our Lord Jesus was his own Father, Jehovah.
Let this cup — Not the cup of death, which our Lord expected to drink, but the peculiar death of shame and ignominy. He questioned the necessity of the public scorn and contempt as a criminal.
To his perfect mind the shame, disesteem and opprobrium added greatly to his anguish.
The question was, Had he been absolutely loyal to God in every particular? If not, death would mean to him an eternal extinction of being; not only the loss of heavenly glory, but the loss of everything. If he should fail in any part of the work, all would be lost, both for himself and for men. Though he was a perfect man, he realized that the flesh, however perfect, was unequal to the task.
The same cup represented in the Communion service.
Pass from me — It is well to remember that his perfect organism was much more susceptible to the pains and sorrows of the hour than could be the feelings of others of the fallen race.
Not as I will — I claim no rights nor attempt to follow my own ideas. The sacrifice of his will meant all that he had. He did not murmur nor rebel. Whatever is asked must, in propriety, include the thought and the expression, Thy will, not ours, O Lord, be done.
But as thou wilt — As my heavenly Father. Proving that his affirmation, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God” (Heb_10:7) was not empty words. He submitted himself to all the Father’s will and thus proved his loyalty.
Though at the time he evidently could not see the necessity for every feature of his test, he nevertheless knew that the love of God was too great to allow a needless pain, and therefore he trusted him where he could not at the time trace his inscrutable ways.
Clarke: Fell on his face – See the note on Luk_22:44. This was the ordinary posture of the supplicant when the favor was great which was asked, and deep humiliation required. The head was put between the knees, and the forehead brought to touch the earth – this was not only a humiliating, but a very painful posture also.
This cup – The word cup is frequently used in the Sacred Writings to point out sorrow, anguish, terror, death. It seems to be an allusion to a very ancient method of punishing criminals. A cup of poison was put into their hands, and they were obliged to drink it. Socrates was killed thus, being obliged by the magistrates of Athens to drink a cup of the juice of hemlock. To death, by the poisoned cup, there seems an allusion in Heb_2:9, Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, Tasted death for every man. The whole world are here represented as standing guilty and condemned before the tribunal of God; into every man’s hand the deadly cup is put, and he is required to drink off the poison – Jesus enters, takes every man’s cup out of his hand, and drinks off the poison, and thus tastes or suffers the death which every man otherwise must have undergone.
Robertson: This cup (to potērion touto). The figure can mean only the approaching death. Jesus had used it of his coming death when James and John came to him with their ambitious request, “the cup which I am about to drink” (Mat_20:22). But now the Master is about to taste the bitter dregs in the cup of death for the sin of the world. He was not afraid that he would die before the Cross, though he instinctively shrank from the cup, but instantly surrendered his will to the Father’s will and drank it to the full. Evidently Satan tempted Christ now to draw back from the Cross. Here Jesus won the power to go on to Calvary.
Mat 26:40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
SA: ◦ And the solution God gave Jesus was the strength to go through with it, and that’s why we pray in difficult times too: for strength • Sometimes we pray for things to change and they do because that’s God’s will, and we rejoice when His will and our will are aligned • And other times we will be praying for God to bring us that alignment, to strengthen us so we can accept what He brings • And in both cases, our prayer life becomes a witness to the world of the work of God and the will of God ◦ And I believe that’s what Jesus meant when He told the three disciples to watch…He meant they should watch Him in prayer to learn God’s will
• These men were the witnesses to this prayer moment • By watching Jesus in prayer, they were in a position to record what Jesus said and report it to us • They could see Jesus’ anguish in facing crucifixion, yet they also hear Jesus praying for the Father’s will to be done in the end ◦ So that then as they reflected on this
1Pet. 2:20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. 21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
Barnes: And findeth them asleep – It may seem remarkable that in such circumstances, with a suffering, pleading Redeemer near, surrounded by danger, and having received a special charge to watch – that is, not to sleep – they should so soon have fallen asleep.
It is frequently supposed that this was proof of wonderful stupidity, and indifference to their Lord’s sufferings. The truth is, however, that it was just the reverse; “it was proof of their great attachment, and their deep sympathy in his sorrows.” Luke has added that he found “them sleeping” for sorrow – that is, “on account” of their sorrow; or their grief was so great that they naturally fell asleep. Multitudes of facts might be brought to show that this is in accordance with the regular effects of grief. Dr. Rush says: “There is another symptom of grief, which is not often noticed, and that is “profound sleep.” I have often witnessed it even in mothers, immediately after the death of a child. Criminals, we are told by Mr. Akerman, the keeper of Newgate, in London, often sleep soundly the night before their execution. The son of General Custine slept nine hours the night before he was led to the guillotine in Paris.” – Diseases of the Mind, p. 319.
Saith unto Peter … – This earnest appeal was addressed to Peter particularly on account of his warm professions, his rash zeal, and his self-confidence. If he could not keep awake and watch with the Saviour for one hour, how little probability was there that he would adhere to him in the trials through which he was soon to pass!
Clarke: He – saith unto Peter – He addressed himself more particularly to this apostle, because of the profession he had made, Mat_26:33; as if he had said: “Is this the way you testify your affectionate attachment to me? Ye all said you were ready to die with me; what, then, cannot you watch One hour?”
Robertson: What (houtōs). The Greek adverb is not interrogation or exclamatory ti, but only “so” or “thus.” There is a tone of sad disappointment at the discovery that they were asleep after the earnest plea that they keep awake (Mat_26:38). “Did you not thus have strength enough to keep awake one hour?” Every word struck home.
Mat 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Guzik: Could you not watch with Me one hour? Jesus valued and desired the help of His friends in this battle. But even without their help, He endured in prayer until the battle was won.
b. Prayed the third time, saying the same words: This shows us that it is not unspiritual to make the same request to God several times. Some hyper-spiritual people believe that if we ask for something more than once, it shows we don’t have faith. But Jesus shows us that repeated prayer is completely consistent with steadfast faith.
Barnes: Watch – See Mat_26:38. Greater trials are coming on. It is necessary, therefore, still to be on your guard.
And pray – Seek aid from God by supplication, in view of the thickening calamities.
That ye enter not into temptation – That ye be not overcome and oppressed with these trials of your faith so as to deny me. The word “temptation” here properly means what would test their faith in the approaching calamities – in his rejection and death. It would “try” their faith, because, though they believed that he was the Messiah, they were not very clearly aware of the necessity of his death, and they did not fully understand that he was to rise again. They had cherished the belief that he was to establish a kingdom “while he lived.” When they should see him, therefore, rejected, tried, crucified, dead – when they should see him submit to all this as if he had not power to deliver himself – “then” would be the trial of their faith; and, in view of that, he exhorted them to pray that they might not so enter temptation as to be overcome by it and fall.
The spirit indeed is willing … – The mind, the heart is ready and disposed to bear these trials, but the “flesh,” the natural feelings, through the fear of danger, is weak, and will be likely to lead you astray when the trial comes. Though you may have strong faith, and believe now that you will not deny me, yet human nature is weak, and shrinks at trials, and you should therefore seek strength from on high. This was intended to excite them, notwithstanding he knew that they loved him, to be on their guard, lest the weakness of human nature should be insufficient to sustain them in the hour of their temptation.
CTR: Watch and pray — By faith draw very near to the Master, and be full of confidence in the divine plan. All true watchers must also be pray-ers [i.e. people who pray]; all fervent pray-ers will also be watchers. Prayer represents the faith; watching represents the works which must accompany it, so long as it is a living faith.
The necessity for watching as well as praying lies in the fact that we have an adversary, an invisible foe, who seeks to seduce us, turn us aside from our vows of consecration. The devil is seeking whom he may devour. He knows your weak points and is ready to take advantage of them.
What they would be praying for they would be striving for. The earnestness of the praying would help them in the watching. Our part is to watch and pray and do our best; God’s part is to overrule, direct and supervise our affairs. Pray for guidance, wisdom and grace.
The praying would signify that they were watching and that their own watching was not sufficient, but that they would need divine assistance.
Some pray and neglect to watch, others watch and neglect to pray. Both errors are serious.
Our Lord watched and prayed; he got a blessing, was strengthened and came off victor. The disciples did not watch and pray; as a result we find them scattered and bewildered.
Watching our own weaknesses, failures and shortcomings, that we may protect ourselves along the lines of these weaknesses.
Watching not only the Lord’s betrayal, trial and crucifixion, but also their experiences of the subsequent days when the disciples met within closed doors.
Watch to be on guard against the encroachments of the world, the flesh and the devil; watch for all the encouragements of the Lord’s Word; watch for everything that will strengthen faith, hope, loyalty and love.
Pray together as the Lord’s people; pray in our homes as families; pray in secret, in private; have the spirit of prayer in all that we say and do.
Although a necessity, nowhere is prayer defined as a duty, nor is a form of prayer furnished.
The frequency and subject matter of prayer will be regulated by circumstances and the earnestness of one’s service. There seems to be special need of this at the Passover season.
Be active, alert, and co-labor with God and with Christ.
That ye enter not — Not that we would not have temptations come to us, but that we would not fall into those temptations. Those who neglect the Master’s words will be sure to enter into temptation, and be tolerably sure to fall therein.
Into temptation — In this hour of trial, which is upon us all. The close of this age is “the hour of temptation” (Rev_3:10) or testing. It is the Gethsemane hour.
“Abandon us not in temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Mat_6:13)
Spirit indeed is willing — Their intention was better than their ability to perform
Flesh is weak — Greek, astheneo, meaning without strength; from a, without; and sthenos, strength.
Mat 26:42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
Mat 26:43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
Mat 26:44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
Barnes: It is probable that our Lord spent considerable time in prayer, and that the evangelists have recorded rather “the substance” of his petitions than the very “words.” He returned repeatedly to his disciples, doubtless to caution them against danger, to show the deep interest which he had in their welfare, and to show them the extent of his sufferings on their behalf
Each time that he returned these sorrows deepened. Again he sought the place of prayer, and as his approaching sufferings overwhelmed him, this was the burden of his prayer, and he prayed the same words. Luke adds that amid his agonies an angel appeared from heaven strengthening him. His human nature began to sink, as unequal to his sufferings, and a messenger from heaven appeared, to support him in these heavy trials… But it should be remembered that Jesus came in his human nature not only to make an atonement, but to be a perfect example of a holy man; that, as such, it was necessary to submit to the common conditions of humanity – that he should live as other people, be sustained as other people, suffer as other people, and be strengthened as other people… he met trials as a man; he received comfort as a man; and there is no absurdity in supposing that, in accordance with the condition of his people, his human nature should be strengthened, as they are, by those who are sent forth to be ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation, Heb_1:14.
Further, Luke adds Luk_22:44 that, being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. The word “agony” is taken from the anxiety, effort, and strong emotion of the wrestlers in the Greek games about to engage in a mighty struggle. Here it denotes the extreme anguish of mind, the strong conflict produced in sinking human nature from the prospect of deep and overwhelming calamities.
“Great drops of blood,” Luk_22:44. The word rendered here as “great drops” does not mean drops gently falling on the ground, but rather thick and clammy masses of gore, pressed by inward agony through the skin, and, mixing with the sweat, falling thus to the ground. It has been doubted by some whether the sacred writer meant to say that there was actually “blood” in this sweat, or only that the sweat was “in the form” of great drops. The natural meaning is, doubtless, that the blood was mingled with his sweat; that it fell profusely – falling masses of gore; that it was pressed out by his inward anguish; and that this was caused in some way in view of his approaching death. This effect of extreme sufferings, of mental anguish. has been known in several other instances. Bloody sweats have been mentioned by many writers as caused by extreme suffering. Dr. Doddridge says (Note at Luk_22:44) that “Aristotle and Diodorus Siculus both mention bloody sweats as attending some extraordinary agony of mind; and I find Loti, in his “Life of Pope Sextus V.,” and Sir John Chardin, in his “History of Persia,” mentioning a like phenomenon, to which Dr. Jackson adds another from Thuanus.” It has been objected to this account that it is improbable, and that such an event could not occur. The instances, however, which are referred to by Doddridge and others show sufficiently that the objection is unfounded. In addition to these, I may observe that Voltaire has himself narrated a fact which ought forever to stop the mouths of infidels. Speaking of Charles IX of France, in his “Universal History,” he says: “He died in his 35th year. His disorder was of a very remarkable kind; the blood oozed out of all his pores. This malady, of which there have been other instances, was owing to either excessive fear, or violent agitation, or to a feverish and melancholy temperament.”
Various opinions have been given of the probable causes of these sorrows of the Saviour. Some have thought it was strong shrinking from the manner of dying on the cross, or from an apprehension of being “forsaken” there by the Father; others, that Satan was permitted in a special manner to test him, and to fill his mind with horrors, having departed from him at the beginning of his ministry for a season Luk_4:13, only to renew his temptations in a more dreadful manner now; and others that these sufferings were sent upon him as the wrath of God manifested against sin that God inflicted them directly upon him by his own hand, to show his abhorrence of the sins of people for which he was about to die. Where the Scriptures are silent about the cause, it does not become us confidently to express an opinion. We may suppose, perhaps, without presumption, that a part or all these things were combined to produce this awful suffering. There is no need of supposing that there was a single thing that produced it; but it is rather probable that this was a rush of feeling from every quarter – his situation, his approaching death, the temptations of the enemy, the awful suffering on account of people’s sins, and God’s hatred of it about to be manifested in his own death – all coming upon his soul at once sorrow flowing in from every quarter – the “concentration” of the sufferings of the atonement pouring together upon him and filling him with unspeakable anguish.
Gill: He went away again the second time,…. To the same place as before, or at some little distance; after he had reproved his disciples for their sleeping, and had exhorted them to watchfulness and prayer, suggesting the danger they were liable to, and the condition they were in:
and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me except I drink it, thy will be done. The sense of this prayer to his God and Father is, that if his sufferings and death could not be dispensed with; if it was not consistent with the decrees of God, and the covenant of grace, that he should be excused from them; or if the glory of God, and the salvation of his people required it, that he must drink up that bitter cup, he was content to do it; desiring in all things to submit unto, and to fulfil his Father’s will, though it was so irksome and disagreeable to nature.
And he came and found them asleep again,…. For they were aroused and awaked, in some measure, by what he had said to them; but no sooner was he gone but they fell asleep again, and thus he found them a second time; or, “he came again and found them asleep”; so read the Vulgate Latin, the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, and Munster’s Hebrew Gospel:
for their eyes were heavy; with sleep through fatigue, sorrow, &c. Mark adds, “neither wist they what to answer him”, Mar_14:40; they were so very sleepy, they knew not how to speak; or they were so confounded, that he should take them asleep a second time, after they had had such a reproof, and exhortation from him, that they knew not what answer to make him; who probably rebuked them again, or gave them a fresh exhortation.
PNT: For their eyes were heavy. Drowsiness, not deep sleep, is meant; Mark adds (Mar_14:40): ‘and they knew not what they should answer Him.’
Mat 26:45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Barnes: Sleep on now and take your rest – Most interpreters have supposed that this should be translated as a question rattler than a command,
“Do you sleep now and take your rest? Is this a time, amid so much danger and so many enemies. to give yourselves to sleep?” This construction is strongly countenanced by Luk_22:46, where the expression. Why sleep ye? evidently refers to the same point of time. There is no doubt that the Greek will bear this construction, and in this way the apparent inconsistency will be removed between this command “to sleep,” and that in the next verse, “to rise” and be going. Others suppose that, his agony being over, and the necessity of watching with him being now past, he kindly permitted them to seek repose until they should be roused by the coming of the traitor; that while they slept Jesus continued still awake; that some considerable time elapsed between what was spoken here and in the next verse; and that Jesus suffered them to sleep until he saw Judas coming, and then aroused them. This is the most probable opinion. Others have supposed that he spoke this in irony: “Sleep on now, if you can; take rest, if possible, in such dangers and at such a time.” But this supposition is unworthy the Saviour and the occasion. Mark adds, “It is enough.” That is, sufficient time has been given to sleep. It is time to arise and be going.
The hour is at hand – The “time” when the Son of man is to be betrayed is near.
Sinners – Judas, the soldiers, and the Jews.
CTR: Sleep on now — Not sarcasm; he wished that they get a little rest, refreshment, in view of the ordeals of the day approaching.
The hour is at hand — He was assured of the Father’s favor, and could pass through any experience; he had gotten the victory.
Robertson: The hour is at hand (ēggiken hē hōra). Time for action has now come. They have missed their chance for sympathy with Jesus. He has now won the victory without their aid. “The Master’s time of weakness is past; He is prepared to face the worst” (Bruce).
Clarke: Sleep on now, and take your rest – Perhaps it might be better to read these words interrogatively, and paraphrase them thus: Do ye sleep on still? Will no warnings avail? Will no danger excite you to watchfulness and prayer? My hour – in which I am to be delivered up, is at hand; therefore now think of your own personal safety.
Mat 26:46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.
Guzik: Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand: Jesus knew Judas and the those who would arrest Him were on the way. He could have run, and escaped the agony waiting at the cross. But Jesus rose to meet Judas. He is in complete control of all events.
Clarke: Rise, let us be going – That is, to meet them, giving thereby the fullest proof that I know all their designs, and might have, by flight or otherwise, provided for my own safety; but I go willingly to meet that death which their malice designs me, and, through it, provide for the life of the world.
Gill: Rise, let us be going,…. Not to run away from the enemy, but to meet him: this was said, partly to arouse his sleepy disciples; and partly to show his love to his Father, and his submission to his will; as also to express the fortitude of his mind as man; he was now rid of his fears, and free from those agonies and dreadful apprehensions of things, he was but a little while ago possessed of; and likewise, to signify his willingness to be apprehended, and to suffer, and die, in the room of his people:
he is at hand that doth betray me. he knew where the betrayer now was, that he was just now coming upon him, in order to deliver him the hands of sinful men. And this he spake with trepidity of soul, with greatness of mind, being no more concerned at it, than when he gave him the sop, and bid him do what he did quickly: he does not mention his name; nor did he ever, when he spoke of him as the betrayer; either because the disciples, as yet, did not fully and certainly know who should betray him, and he would not now surprise them with it; or because they did, and therefore it was needless to mention his name; or rather, because he was unworthy to be mentioned by name: a “behold” is prefixed to this, partly to awaken the attention of his disciples; and partly to express what an horrid, insolent, and unparalleled action that was, Judas was now about to be guilty of.
PNT: Arise, i.e., rouse yourselves, not simply, stand up.
Let us be going. Both expressions imply haste, not necessarily terror. The conflict is over, the spirit of submission reigns; yet He is anxious that the trial of the moment of His betrayal should be over. His advancing to meet His betrayer may have been to rejoin and protect the eight disciples at the entrance of the garden.
Behold, etc. The band of Judas now appears.
Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
Mat 26:47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.
Gill: And while he yet spake,…. While he was thus speaking to his disciples, before the last words, he is at hand that doth betray me, were well out of his mouth; such an exact knowledge had Christ of every motion of Judas, of what he was about, and where he was:
lo! Judas, one of the twelve, came. The Persic version adds, “in sight”; of Christ, and the disciples; they saw him, and knew him, though some little distance: he came to Gethsemane, and into the garden, where they were, with a design to betray his master. He is described by his name Judas; as in Mat_26:14, for there was another Judas among the apostles; the Syriac and Persic read, Judas the betrayer, to distinguish him from the other: and also by his office, “one of the twelve”; i.e. apostles, whom Christ called from the rest of his disciples and followers, and bestowed extraordinary gifts upon, and sent forth to preach the Gospel, cast out devils, and heal all manner of diseases; and “lo!”, one of these betrays him! an apostle, and yet a devil! one of the twelve, one of his select company, and bosom friends, and yet a traitor!
and with him a great multitude, with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders the people. Judas was at the head of them, went before them to show them where Christ was, and to deliver him into their hands: he had not been asleep, he had been with the chief priests, and acquainted them with the opportunity he had of making good his agreement with him: he had got the band of soldiers, and other persons together, in order to make sure work of it. Thus we see how diligent wicked men are in the accomplishment of their evil designs, whilst good men are asleep and indifferent to godly and spiritual exercises. Judas is here described by his company; he who but a few hours ago was at table with his Lord, and the rest of the apostles, is now at the head of band of … soldiers, and other miscreants, and blood thirsty wretches, intent upon the death of his master. They may well be called a “multitude”, because made up of various sorts of persons, and these, many of them; …, of the officers and servants of the chief priests; yea of the chief priests themselves, captains of the temple, and elders of the people, who were so eager upon this enterprise, that they could not forbear going in company with them, to see what would be the issue of it. And “a great one”; for the “band” of soldiers, if it was complete, consisted of a thousand men itself; and besides this, there were many others, and all to take a single person, and who had no more about him than eleven disciples; though the (i) Jews pretend he had two thousand men with him: and who came also “with swords and staves, or clubs”; …, and the servants of the chief priests with their clubs: the reason of this posse, and of their being thus armed, might be either for fear of the people, who, should they be alarmed, and have any notice of their design, might rise and make an uproar, and attempt to rescue him; … and the chief priests and their officers, it might appear, that what they did they did by authority; and that they seized him as a malefactor, as one guilty either of sedition, or heresy, or both. And this account is confirmed by the Jews themselves, who say (k), that the citizens, of Jerusalem were מזוינים, “armed”, and equiped, and so took Jesus: and this multitude also came “from the chief priests and elders of the people”. Mark joins the Scribes with them, Mar_14:43, these composed the sanhedrim, or great council of the nation, who had been consulting the death of Christ; had agreed to give Judas thirty pieces of silver to betray him into their hands;
CTR: Lo, Judas — He either knew the garden as a spot frequented by Jesus and his disciples, or had learned at the supper where the company intended to go subsequently.
A great multitude — Not Roman soldiers, but a rabble of the curious with certain servants of the high priest, who was also a judge; an impromptu sheriff’s posse.
A number of men who served as policemen in the Temple and its precincts. These were servants of the high priest. The under-priests and under-officers of Caiaphas’ court, his household of servants.
And staves — Maces.
Clarke: Judas, one of the twelve – More deeply to mark his base ingratitude and desperate wickedness – He was One of the Twelve – and he is a Traitor, and one of the vilest too that ever disgraced human nature.
A great multitude with swords and staves – They did not come as officers of justice, but as a desperate mob. Justice had nothing to do in this business. He who a little before had been one of the leaders of the flock of Christ is now become the leader of ruffians and murderers! What a terrible fall!
Barnes: The account of Jesus’ being betrayed by Judas is recorded by all the evangelists. See Mar_14:43-52; Luk_22:47-53; Joh_18:2-12.
Judas, one of the twelve, came – This was done while Jesus was addressing his disciples.
John informs us that Judas knew the place, because Jesus was in the habit of going there with his disciples. Judas had passed the time, after he left Jesus and the other disciples at the Passover, in arranging matters with the Jews, collecting the band, and preparing to go. Perhaps, also, on this occasion they gave him the money which they had promised.
A great multitude with swords and staves – John says that he had received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees.” Josephus says (Antiq. b. 20 chapter iv.) that at the festival of the Passover, when a great multitude of people came to observe the feast, lest there should be any disorder, a band of men was commanded to keep watch at the porches of the temple, to repress a tumult if any should be excited. This band, or guard, was at the disposal of the chief priests, Mat_27:65. It was composed of Roman soldiers, and was stationed chiefly at the tower of Antonia, at the northwest side of the temple. In addition to this, they had constant guards stationed around the temple, composed of Levites. … These were the persons sent by the priests to apprehend Jesus. Perhaps other desperate men might have joined them.
Staves – In the original, “wood;” used here in the plural number. It means rather “clubs” or “sticks” than spears. It does not mean “staves.” Probably it means any weapon at hand, such as a mob could conveniently collect. John says that they had “lanterns and torches.” The Passover was celebrated at the “full moon;” but this night might have been cloudy. The place to which they were going was also shaded with trees, and lights, therefore, might be necessary.
Meyer: BETRAYED AND FORSAKEN
We cannot fathom the secret thoughts of the traitor. Did he hope that his act would compel Christ to take the course of self-vindication, which His mighty acts appeared to make possible? It seems unthinkable that there was not some explanation other than mere greed! Yet, when we look into our own hearts, can we be altogether surprised? How often have we betrayed the Lord by our reticence, when we should have spoken; by the kiss of the lip, when we were selfishly exploiting our association with Him to our own advantage!
Wesley: Mar 14:43; Luk 22:47; Joh 18:2.
Vincents: One of the twelve
Repeated in all three evangelists, in the narratives both of the betrayal and of the arrest. By the time Matthew’s Gospel was written, the phrase had become a stereotyped designation of the traitor, like he that betrayed him.
A great multitude
The Sanhedrin had neither soldiery nor a regularly-armed band at command. In Joh_18:3, Judas receives a cohort of soldiers and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees. Part of the band would consist of this regularly-armed cohort, and the rest of a crowd armed with cudgels, and embracing some of the servants of conspicuous men in the Sanhedrin.
Mat 26:48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.
Barnes: Gave them a sign – That is, told them of a way by which they might know whom to apprehend – to wit, by his kissing him.
It was night. Jesus was, besides, probably personally unknown to … the others. Judas, therefore, being well acquainted with him, to prevent the possibility of mistake, agreed to designate him by one of the tokens of friendship.
John tells us that Jesus, knowing all things that should come upon him, when they approached him, asked them whom they sought, and that they replied, Jesus of Nazareth. He then informed them that he was the person they sought. They, when they heard it, overawed by his presence and smitten with the consciousness of guilt, went backward and fell to the ground. He again asked them whom they sought. They made the same declaration – Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus then, since they professed to seek only Him, claimed the right that his disciples should be suffered to escape, “that the saying might be fulfilled which he spake Joh_18:9; Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.”
Benson: He that betrayed him gave them a sign, &c. — As the soldiers probably had never seen Jesus before, and it was now night, and there were twelve persons together, probably dressed much alike, Judas found it necessary to point him out to them by some such sign as he now gave: a sign, the design of which was less to be suspected by his other disciples, as it was a Jewish custom, after a long absence, or at departing from each other, to make use of the ceremony of a kiss. They used it likewise as a sign of affection to their equals, and as a mark of homage and reverence to their superiors. See Psa_2:12; Luk_7:45. It is very probable that our Lord, in great condescension, had used, agreeably to this custom, to permit his disciples thus to salute him when they returned, after having been any time absent.
CTR: Betrayed him — There can be no excuse properly offered for treachery to God and his cause.
Clarke: Gave them a sign – How coolly deliberate is this dire apostate! The man whom I shall kiss – how deeply hypocritical! That is he, hold him fast, seize him – how diabolically malicious!
Gill: Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign,…. By which it might be known who he was; for it being night, though they had lanterns and torches, as John says, Joh_18:3, yet Judas himself might not be able to discern, him, so as to point him out, until he came very near him: moreover, Christ and his apostles might be clothed alike, so that a mistake might be easily made, and one of them be took for him: and so the Jews say (l), that the two thousand men, they pretend were with him, were clothed with the same apparel; which story may take its rise from hence: add to this, that James, the son of Alphaeus, called the brother of our Lord, is reported to be very like unto him. Besides, it is very likely that the .,, soldiers, who were to be the principal persons in apprehending, binding, and carrying him away, might never have seen him, and so could not know him without some sign was given them; and which Judas gave them before he came out with them: and is as follows:
saying, whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he, hold him fast. Judas might the rather pitch upon this to be the sign, partly because it might be what had been usual with the disciples, when they had been at any time absent from Christ, and which he admitted of; and partly because he might think this would best cover his treacherous designs, who, with all his wickedness, had not effrontery enough to come sword in hand and seize him in a violent manner, and besides, might not judge such a method advisable, had he impudence enough to prosecute it, lest this should put Jesus upon taking some measures to make his escape. The reason of his advice, “hold him fast”, was, because he knew that once and again, when attempts were made to seize him, he easily disengaged himself, passed through the midst, and went his way; see Luk_4:30.
Joh_10:39; and therefore gave them this caution, and strict charge, lest, should he slip from them, he should lose his money he had agreed with the chief priests for; or to let them know, that when he was in their hands, he had made good his agreement, and should expect his money: and that it lay upon them then to take care of him, and bring him before the sanhedrim. The account the Jews themselves give of the directions of Judas, is not very much unlike this; who represent him advising in this manner, only as on the day before:
“gird yourselves ready about this time tomorrow, and the man whom shall worship and bow to, the same is he; behave yourselves like men of war, fight against his company, and lay hold on him (m).
Mat 26:49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.
Barnes: Hail, Master – The word translated “hail,” here, means to “rejoice,” to have joy, and also to have “cause” of joy.
It thus expresses the “joy” which one friend has when he meets another, especially after an absence. It was used by the Jews and Greeks as a mode of salutation among friends. It would here seem to express the “joy” of Judas at finding his Master and again being “with him.”
Master – In the original, “Rabbi.” See the notes at Mat_23:7.
Kissed him – Gave him the common salutation of friends when meeting after absence. This mode of salutation was more common among Eastern nations than with us.
Clarke: Hail, Master – A usual compliment among the Jews. Judas pretends to wish our Lord continued health while he is meditating his destruction!
How many compliments of this kind are there in the world! Judas had a pattern in Joab, who, while he pretends to inquire tenderly for the health of Amasa, thrust him through with his sword; but the disciple here vastly outdoes his master, and through a motive, if possible, still more base. Let all those who use unmeaning or insidious compliments rank for ever with Joab and Judas.
And kissed him – And tenderly kissed him – this is the proper meaning of the original word κατεφιλησεν, he kissed him again and again – still pretending the most affectionate attachment to him, though our Lord had before unmasked him.
Guzik: Greetings, Rabbi! Judas warmly greeted Jesus, even giving Him the customary kiss. But the kiss only precisely identified Jesus to the authorities who came to arrest Jesus. There are no more hollow, hypocritical words in the Bible than “Greetings, Rabbi!” in the mouth of Judas. The loving, heartfelt words of Jesus – calling Judas “Friend” – stand in sharp contrast.
Gill: And forthwith he came to Jesus,…. As soon as ever he appeared, before the rest could come up; for, he went before them, as Luke says, and that not only as, their guide to direct them to the person they wanted, but he separated himself from them, that it might not be thought that he came with them, or belonged to them:
and said, hail, master; and kissed him. Just as Joab asked Amasa of his health, and took him by the beard to kiss him, and smote him under the fifth rib, 2Sa_20:9. The salutation he gave him was wishing him all health, prosperity, and happiness. The Syriac version renders it, “peace, Rabbi”; and the Persic, “peace be upon thee, Rabbi”; which was the very form of salutation the disciples of the wise men gave to their Rabbins,
“Says (n) Aba bar Hona, in the name of R. Jochanan, in what form is the salutation of a disciple to his master? רבי.
שלום עליך, “peace be upon thee, Rabbi”.
In Mar_14:45, the word “Rabbi” is repeated, this being usual in the salutation of the Jewish doctors; and the rather used by Judas under a pretence of doing him the greater honour, and of showing the highest respect, and strongest affection for him. So this deceitful wretch still addresses him as his master, though he was now serving his most implacable enemies; and wishes him all peace and joy, when he was going to deliver him into the hands of those that sought his life; and to cover all, kissed him, as a token of his friendship and the sincerity of it. It is rightly observed by Dr. Lightfoot, that it was usual for masters to kiss their disciples, particularly their heads; but then not for disciples to kiss their masters: of the former there are many instances in the Jewish writings, but not of the latter: yet, I can hardly think that this was done out of open contempt and derision; but under a pretence of respect and love; and even as being concerned for his present case, and as condoling him under the circumstances he was now likely to be in, through an armed hand, which was just upon him; and which he, by this artifice, would have suggested he had no concern with,
Vincents: Kissed him (κατεφίλησεν)
The compound verb has the force of an emphatic, ostentatious salute. Meyer says embraced and kissed. The same word is used of the tender caressing of the Lord’s feet by the woman in the Pharisee’s house (Luk_7:38), of the father’s embrace of the returned prodigal (Luk_15:20), and of the farewell of the Ephesian elders to Paul (Act_20:37).
CTR: Hail, master — Some accompany a denial of the ransom with these words and a deceitful kiss.
And kissed him — In profession of love. Representatives of the Judas spirit also betray with a kiss, professing great love and respect for the members of the body of Christ, which they secretly smite for personal gain. The mind and conscience must be perverted before each step of sin.
All such should be an abhorrence to every one who possesses the true, noble, Christ-like spirit.
The Greek indicates that he kissed the Lord repeatedly.
Johnson: Gave them a sign. A kiss; a common method of salutation among intimate friends. A sign was needful to point Jesus out to the soldiers. Such a traitorous kiss was the depth of depravity–enmity under the guise of friendship.
Benson: And forthwith he came to Jesus — Here we see it was the portion of our blessed Redeemer to be betrayed into the hands of his mortal enemies by the treachery of a false and dissembling friend, whose sin was greatly aggravated by the eminence of his place and station, and by the peculiar honour done him and trust reposed in him. For he bare the bag; that is, he was, as it were, almoner and steward of Christ’s family, to take care for the necessary accommodations of Christ and his apostles; and yet this man, thus called, thus honoured, thus respectfully treated by Christ, for the lucre of a little money, perfidiously betrays him! “O whither,” says Burkitt, “will not a bad heart and busy devil carry a man?” Hail, Master, and kissed him — “Here was honey on the tongue, and poison in the heart. This treacherous kiss enhanced his crime beyond expression. O vilest of hypocrites, how durst thou approach so near thy Lord in the exercise of so much baseness and ingratitude! But none sin with so much impudence as hypocrites and apostates.”
Mat 26:50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.
Barnes: And Jesus said unto him, Friend – It seems strange to us that Jesus should give the endeared name “friend” to a man that he knew was his enemy, and that was about to betray him.
It should be remarked, however, that this is the fault of our language, not of the original. In the Greek there are two words which our translators have rendered “friend” – one implying “affection and regard,” the other not. One is properly rendered “friend;” the other expresses more nearly what we mean by “companion.” It is this “latter” word which is given to the disaffected laborer in the vineyard: “‘Friend,’ I do thee no wrong” Mat_20:13; to the guest which had not on the wedding-garment, in the parable of the marriage feast Mat_22:12; and to “Judas” in this place.
Wherefore art thou come? – This was said, not because he was ignorant why he had come, but probably to fill the mind of Judas with the consciousness of his crime, and by a striking question to compel him to think of what he was doing.
Johnson: They laid hands on Jesus. And bound him (Joh_18:12).
Benson: Jesus said, Friend Gr. εταιρε, companion; wherefore — Gr. εφ’ ω, For what, or against whom, art thou come? — Against me, thy Teacher, Saviour, and Lord? And to put me into the hands of murderers? Our Lord also added, (see Luk_22:48,) Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? — Art thou so vile a hypocrite as to betray thy Lord and Master by that which all men use as the symbol either of love or homage, making it the signal of thy treachery? The heroic behaviour of the blessed Jesus, in the whole period of his sufferings, will be observed by every attentive eye, and felt by every pious heart: although the sacred historians, according to their usual but wonderful simplicity, make no encomiums upon it. With what composure does he go forth to meet the traitor! With what calmness receive that malignant kiss! With what dignity does he deliver himself into the hands of his enemies! Yet plainly showing his superiority over them, and even then leading, as it were, captivity captive!
Clarke: Jesus said – Friend – Rather, companion, εταιρε, (not Friend), wherefore, rather, against whom (εφ’ ὃ, the reading of all the best MSS.) art thou come? How must these words have cut his very soul, if he had any sensibility left! Surely, thou, who hast so long been my companion, art not come against me, thy Lord, Teacher and Friend! What is the human heart not capable of, when abandoned by God, and influenced by Satan and the love of money!
Laid hands on Jesus – But not before they had felt that proof of his sovereign power by which they had all been struck down to the earth, Joh_18:6. It is strange that, after this, they should dare to approach him; but the Scriptures must be fulfilled.
Gill: And Jesus said unto him, friend,…. Not in an ironical and sarcastic way, but because he pretended to be his friend, by saluting and kissing him, in the manner he had done; or rather, because Christ had always used him as his friend, his familiar friend, who had been of his councils, and had ate at his table; and therefore this carried in it something very cutting, had Judas had any conscience, or sense of gratitude:
wherefore art thou come? The Ethiopic version reads, “my friend, art thou not come?” that is, art thou come as my friend? is thy coming as a friend, or as an enemy? if as a friend, what means this company with swords and staves? if as an enemy, why this salutation and kiss? or what is thine end in coming at this time of night? what is thy business here? thou hast left my company, and my disciples, what dost thou do here? The Syriac version reads it,
and the Arabic,
“to this art thou come?”
to kiss me, and by a kiss to deliver me into the hands of my enemies? to which agrees what is said in Luke,
“Judas, betrayest thou the son of man with a kiss?”
Luk_22:48. This he said, to let him know he knew him, and therefore he calls him by name; and that he knew his design in kissing him, and that what he was doing was against light and knowledge; he, at the same time, knowing that he was the son of man, the true Messiah,
Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him; that is, the multitude, the Roman band, the captains and officers of the Jews, when Judas had given the sign; though not till Christ had given them a specimen of his power, in striking them to the ground; to let them know, that Judas could never have put him into their hands, nor could they have laid hold on him, had he not thought fit to surrender himself to them. The seizing and apprehending him is related by Luke and John as after the following circumstance; though the Ethiopic version here reads, “they lift up their hands, and did not lay hold on the Lord Jesus”.
CTR: Friend — Not the Greek word philos, beloved, or loving friend; but from hetaire, which signifies comrade or partner.
Mark the calm, dignified fortitude as a result of his Gethsemane prayers.
Wesley: The heroic behaviour of the blessed Jesus, in the whole period of his sufferings, will be observed by every attentive eye, and felt by every pious heart: although the sacred historians, according to their usual but wonderful simplicity, make no encomiums upon it. With what composure does he go forth to meet the traitor! With what calmness receive that malignant kiss! With what dignity does he deliver himself into the hands of his enemies! Yet plainly showing his superiority over them, and even then leading as it were captivity captive!
Sermon: The Last Pleading of Love.
I. The patience of Christ’s love. If we take no higher view of this most pathetic incident than that the words come from a man’s lips, even then all its beauty will not be lost. There are some sins against friendship, in which the manner is harder to bear than the substance of the evil. It must have been a strangely mean and dastardly nature, as well as a coarse and cold one, that could think of fixing on the kiss of affection as the concerted sign to point out their victim to the legionaries. Many a man who could have planned and executed the treason would have shrunk from that. But what a picture of perfect patience and unruffled calm we have here, in that the answer to the poisonous, hypocritical embrace was these moving words. Surely if there ever was a man who might have been supposed to be excluded from the love of God, it was this man. Surely if ever there was a moment in a human life when one might have been supposed that ever open heart would shut itself together against anyone, it was this moment. But no, the betrayer in the very instant of his treason has that changeless tenderness lingering around him, and that merciful hand beckoning to him still.
II. The pleading of Christ’s patient love. There is an appeal to the traitor’s heart, and an appeal to his conscience. Christ would have him think of the relations that have so long subsisted between them, and He would have him think too of the real nature of the deed he is doing, or perhaps of the motives that impel him. The grave, sad word by which He addresses him is meant to smite upon his heart. The sharp question which He puts to him is meant to wake up his conscience; and both taken together represent the two chief classes of remonstrance which He brings to bear upon us all—the two great batteries from which He assails the fortress of our sins.
III. The possible rejection of Christ’s patient love. (1) Even that appeal was vain. Man can frustrate the counsel of God. (2) Judas held his peace—no more. There was no need for him to break out with oaths and curses—to reject his Lord with wild words. Silence was sufficient. And for us no more is required. (3) The appeal of Christ’s love hardens where it does not soften. That gentle voice drove the traitor nearer the verge over which the fell into a gulf of despair.
Vincents: Wherefore art thou come ? (ἐφ’ o$ pa/rei)
The interrogation of the A. V. is wrong. The expression is elliptical and condensed. Literally it is, that for which thou art here; and the mind is to supply do or be about. The Lord spurns the traitor’s embrace, and says, in effect, “Enough of this hypocritical fawning. Do what you are here to do.” So Rev., Do that for which thou art come.
Mat 26:51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.
Benson: And one of them which were with Jesus — Namely, Peter; struck a servant of the high-priest — Probably the person that seized Jesus first, or was showing greater forwardness than the rest in this business. This servant’s name was Malchus, Joh_18:10. But why did not Peter draw his sword upon Judas, rather than Malchus? Doubtless because Judas had concealed his purpose so well from the disciples, that Peter did not suspect him, nor understand the treacherous design of his kiss. Though this might seem a courageous action of Peter, it was really very imprudent; and had not Christ, by some secret influence, overawed their spirits, it is very probable that not only Peter, but the rest of the apostles, might have been cut to pieces. Accordingly, Jesus ordered him to sheath his sword, telling him that his unseasonable and imprudent defence might prove the occasion of his destruction; or rather, as Grotius interprets it, that there was no need of fighting in his defence, because God would punish the Jews for putting him to death. See Rev_13:10; where this very expression, they that take the sword shall perish with the sword, is used in predicting the destruction of the persecutors of true Christians. Christ told him, likewise, that his rash conduct implied both a distrust of the divine providence, which can always employ a variety of means for the safety of his servants, and gross ignorance of the Scriptures.
CTR: One of them — Peter.
Drew his sword — Which was carried as proof that our Lord was not taken contrary to his own will.
The having of the swords made possible the exhibition of the courage of the disciples and the willingness of Jesus to submit.
Clarke: One of them which were with Jesus – This was Peter – struck a servant of the high priest’s, the servant’s name was Malchus, Joh_18:10, and smote off his ear. In Luk_22:51, it is said, Jesus touched and healed it. Here was another miracle, and striking proof of the Christ. Peter did not cut the ear, merely, he cut it Off, αφειλεν. Now to heal it, Jesus must either take up the ear and put it on again, or else create a new one – either of these was a miracle, which nothing less than unlimited power could produce. See the note on Joh_18:10.
Gill: And behold one of them which were with Jesus,…. Either one of the three that Jesus took with him whilst he was in his agony, leaving the other eight at some distance; or of the eleven, who might now be all with him: however, it is certain, Peter is the person meant; for though he is not named here, nor by Mark, nor Luke, he is by John, Joh_18:10; whose Gospel being wrote last, and many years after the rest, there was no danger like to accrue, by telling who it was that did the following action: he being now thoroughly awaked with the rest, by what Christ had said to him; and more so by the surprise of the multitude of armed men about him; and remembering his solemn protestations of abiding by his master; and seeing him just now ready to be seized, and carried away; without knowing his master’s mind, or waiting his answer to the question the other disciples put,
stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. It seems he had a sword by his side, upon what account is not certain; this he drew, and struck at a servant of the high priest’s, who might show great malignity against Christ, and was foremost, and most busy in apprehending him. The blow was levelled at his head, and with an intention, no doubt, to have, cleaved him down, but sloping on one side took off his ear. The servant’s name was Malchus, as John says; and it was his right ear that was cut off, as both he and Luke relate, Joh_18:10.
Vincents: The servant (τὸν δοῦλον)
The article marks the special servant; the body-servant.
A diminutive in form but not in sense; according to a Greek popular usage which expressed parts of the body by diminutives; as ῥίνια, the nostrils; ὀμμάτιον, the eye; σαρκίον, the body. Peter aimed his blow at the servant’s head, but missed.
Robertson: One of them that were with Jesus (heis tōn meta Iēsou). Like the other Synoptics Matthew conceals the name of Peter, probably for prudential reasons as he was still living before A.D. 68. John writing at the end of the century mentions Peter’s name (Joh_18:10). The sword or knife was one of the two that the disciples had (Luk_22:38). Bruce suggests that it was a large knife used in connexion with the paschal feast. Evidently Peter aimed to cut off the man’s head, not his ear (ōtion is diminutive in form, but not in sense, as often in the Koiné). He may have been the leader of the band. His name, Malchus, is also given by John (Joh_18:10) because Peter was then dead and in no danger.
Mat 26:52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
Meyer: Our Lord did not die a martyr’s death. The martyr is led to the scaffold or stake because he is overpowered by superior force. But our Lord knew that the invisible world was full of help if only He had expressed the slightest wish. Others die because they are born; He was born that He might die. “He laid down His life that He might take it again.” He would not receive help from the Father, or the angels, or Peter’s sword, but poured out His soul unto death, because of a love that was stronger than death. See 1Pe_2:21, etc.
Vincents: Put up again–Peter was still brandishing his sword.
Barnes: One of them which were with Jesus – John informs us that this was Peter.
The other evangelists concealed the name, probably because they wrote while Peter was living, and it might have endangered Peter to have it known.
And drew his sword – The apostles were not commonly armed. On this occasion they had provided “two swords,” Luk_22:38. In seasons of danger, when traveling, they were under a necessity of providing means of defending themselves against the robbers that infested the country. This will account for their having any swords in their possession. See the notes at Luk_10:30. Josephus informs us that the people were accustomed to carry swords under their garments as they went up to Jerusalem.
A servant of the high-priest – His name, John informs us, was “Malchus.” Luke adds that Jesus touched the ear and healed it, thus showing his benevolence to his foes when they sought his life, and giving them proof that they were attacking him that was sent from heaven.
CTR: Put up again thy sword — Never afterward do we hear of the disciples using force or violence in the service of the Lord.
Never was there a time when this admonition was more needed by nominal Christendom than today.
That take the sword — The blending of carnal with spiritual warfare is impossible, and such a course is sure to cultivate, more and more, the carnal mind.
Shall perish — A general principle.
With the sword — He who prepares for warfare will be pretty sure to get plenty of it. We are never to use earthly power in seeking to promote the cause of the Master. The only sword we may use is “the sword of the Spirit.” (Eph_6:17)
Gill: Then said Jesus unto him,…. That is, unto Peter,
put up again thy sword into its place, or sheath. This Christ said not only to rebuke Peter for his rashness, but to soften the minds of the multitude, who must be enraged at such an action; and which was still more effectually done by his healing the man’s ear: and indeed, had it not been for these words, and this action of Christ’s; and more especially had it not been owing to the powerful influence Christ had over the spirits of these men, in all probability Peter, and the rest of the apostles, had been all destroyed at once,
Clarke: Put up again thy sword into his place – Neither Christ nor his religion is to be defended by the secular arm. God is sufficiently able to support his ark: Uzzah need not stretch out his hand on the occasion. Even the shadow of public justice is not to be resisted by a private person, when coming from those in public authority. The cause of a Christian is the cause of God: sufferings belong to one, and vengeance to the other. Let the cause, therefore, rest in his hands, who will do it ample justice.
Shall perish with the sword – Instead of απολουνται, shall perish, many excellent MSS., versions, and fathers, have αποθανουνται, shall die. The general meaning of this verse is, they who contend in battle are likely, on both sides, to become the sacrifices of their mutual animosities. But it is probably a prophetic declaration of the Jewish and Roman states. The Jews put our Lord to death under the sanction of the Romans – both took the sword against Christ, and both perished by it. The Jews by the sword of the Romans, and the Romans by that of the Goths, Vandals, etc. The event has verified the prediction – the Jewish government has been destroyed upwards of 1700 years, and the Roman upwards of 1000. Confer with this passage, Psa_2:4, Psa_2:9; Psa_110:1, Psa_110:5, Psa_110:6. But how came Peter to have a sword? Judea was at this time so infested with robbers and cut-throats that it was not deemed safe for any person to go unarmed. He probably carried one for his mere personal safety.
Robertsons: Put up again thy sword (apostrepson tēn machairan sou). Turn back thy sword into its place. It was a stern rebuke for Peter who had misunderstood the teaching of Jesus in Luk_22:38 as well as in Mat_5:39 (cf. Joh_18:36). The reason given by Jesus has had innumerable illustrations in human history. The sword calls for the sword. Offensive war is here given flat condemnation.
Mat 26:53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
Guzik: One of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear: Matthew doesn’t tell us, but we know from Joh_18:10 that this unnamed swordsman was Peter. But Jesus didn’t need his help with the sword. If He wanted it, Jesus had more than twelve legions of angels (something in the area of 36,000 angels) waiting to help Him.
i. The number is impressive, especially considering that one angel killed up to 185,000 soldiers in one night (2Ki_19:35).
ii. With one sword, Peter is willing to take on a small army of men. Yet he couldn’t pray with Jesus for one hour. Often prayer is the very hardest, and best work we can do.
iii. With his sword, Peter accomplished very little. He only cut off one ear, and really just made a mess that Jesus had to clean up by healing the severed ear (Luk_22:51). When Peter moved in the power of the world, he only cut off ears. But when he was filled with the Spirit, using the Word of God, Peter pierced hearts for God’s glory (Act_2:37).
c. All this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled: With all power at His disposal, Jesus is in total command. He is not the victim of circumstance, but He is managing circumstances for the fulfillment of prophecy.
Benson: Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father — Who heareth me always; and he shall give me more than twelve legions of angels — “The legion was a Roman military term…, our Lord might make use of this term by way of contrast, to show what an inconsiderable thing the cohort was, in comparison of the force he could summon to his assistance; — more than twelve legions, not of soldiers, but of angels — Instead of twelve deserting, timorous disciples! How dreadfully irresistible would such an army of angels have been, when one of these celestial spirits was able to destroy 185,000 Assyrians at one stroke!
2Ki_19:35.” Peter, it must be observed, had not only wounded the ear of the high-priest’s servant, but had actually cut it off. Jesus, however, repaired this injury; He touched his ear and healed him, Luk_22:51; either putting the ear on again, which was cut off, or creating a new one in the place of it: or if he performed the cure in any other way, he equally demonstrated both his goodness and power; and it is surprising that such a miracle, done in such circumstances, made no impression on those that came to apprehend him, especially as he put them in mind, at the same time, of his other miracles.
Robertsons: Even now (arti). Just now, at this very moment.
Legions (legionas). A Latin word. Roman soldiers in large numbers were in Palestine later in A.D. 66, but they were in Caesarea and in the tower of Antonia in Jerusalem. A full Roman legion had 6,100 foot and 726 horse in the time of Augustus. But Jesus sees more than twelve legions at his command (one for each apostle) and shows his undaunted courage in this crisis. One should recall the story of Elisha at Dothan (2Ki_6:17).
Barnes: Thinkest thou … – Jesus says that not only would Peter endanger himself, but his resistance implied a distrust of the protection of God, and was an improper resistance of his will.
If it had been proper that they should be rescued, God could easily have furnished far more efficient aid than that of Peter – a mighty host of angels.
Twelve legions – A legion was a division of the Roman army amounting to more than 6,000 men. See the notes at Mat_8:29. The number “twelve” was mentioned, perhaps, in reference to the number of his apostles and himself. Judas being away, but eleven disciples remained. God could guard him, and each disciple, with a legion of angels: that is, God could easily protect him, if he should pray to him, and if it was his will.
Clarke: More than twelve legions of angels? – As if he had said, Instead of you twelve, one of whom is a traitor, my Father can give me more than twelve legions of angels to defend me. A legion, at different times, contained different numbers; 4,200, 5,000, and frequently 6,000 men; and from this saying, taking the latter number, which is the common rate, may we not-safely believe that the angels of God amount to more than 72,000?
CTR: Give me more — His request would have been honored. Having violated no law, his life was not forfeited, and we believe could not have been taken from him. He who declined to ask for personal help was nevertheless perfectly at liberty to call upon these powers in the interests of his followers–in the feeding of the multitude, the stilling of the tempest and the providing of the taxes.
He could have escaped the awful experience, but he did not do so, but willingly gave himself a ransom for sinners.
Legions of angels — If I were willing to use divine power for my personal comfort. Christ never prayed for deliverance from his natural troubles, but cheerfully endured them as part of his sacrifice, and so should we. He did not exercise this power for his own defence.
Gill: Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father,…. Meaning, if he thought proper, or that there was any necessity for it, or that he was desirous of being rescued out of such hands he was falling into.
And he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels. A Roman legion consisted of about six thousand soldiers, or upwards; some add six hundred sixty six; and others make the number far greater. Twelve are mentioned, either with respect to the twelve apostles; or in allusion, as others think, to the Roman militia; a proper and full army with them consisting of such a number of legions: and that there is an innumerable company of angels, thousand thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand, is certain; and the Persic version here reads; “twelve myriads” of legions; and that these are at the command of the Lord, and he can dispatch them at once, on any emergent occasion, is very evident; and what is it that such a company of angels is not capable of, when a single angel slew in one night an hundred, fourscore, and five thousand men, 2Ki_19:35, wherefore had Christ had any inclination to have been rescued from the present danger, he stood in no need of Peter’s sword.
Johnson: Or thinkest thou not? etc. The Lord needed no human defenders, had it been the Divine purpose that he should not die.
More than twelve legions of angels? A Roman legion contained from six thousand men upwards. The idea here is a mighty host. He and his eleven faithful apostles are twelve. There is more than a legion for each one of them. He could have evaded the enemies had he chosen; the angels would have come to his rescue, if he had willed it, but he gave himself unto death.
Mat 26:54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
Barnes: But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled … – That is, the Scriptures which foretold of his dying for the world.
In some way that must be accomplished, and the time had come when, having finished the work which the Father gave him to do, it was proper that he should submit to death. This was said, doubtless, to comfort his disciples; to show them that his death was not a matter of surprise or disappointment to him; and that they, therefore, should not be offended and forsake him.
Clarke: But how then – Had I such a defense – shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say, that thus it must be? That is, that I am to suffer and die for the sin of the world. Probably the Scriptures to which our Lord principally refers are Psalm 22, 69, and especially Isa_53:1-12, and Dan_9:24-27. Christ shows that they had no power against him but what he permitted; and that he willingly gave up himself into their hands.
CTR: But how then — Likewise those who now tread the same narrow way refuse to ask to escape sacrifice for the same reason, that they may complete their covenant of sacrifice. Hence we are debarred from asking for restitution blessings and privileges.
Our Lord does not indicate by his language that he could ask for angelic protection and yet retain the full measure of the Father’s approval.
Thus it must be — It would have been sin for him to have called on the divine power for his relief or protection from any part of the dying processes, because he had made a covenant of sacrifice.
Those who consecrated to God, to be “conformed unto his death” (Phi_3:10) must not only not keep back any part of the price, but see so clearly the dependence of their glory on suffering with him that they ask no physical healing for themselves.
He laid aside his own will and carried out the will of God, though it cost him privation at every step and finally a death most painful and ignominious. The temporal favors were withheld that the divine purpose might be accomplished in the sacrificial death of his beloved Son.
Gill: But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled,…. That is, should Christ make such a request to his Father, and he should grant it, and an host of angels should be sent to rescue him, and he should be rescued by them; how then should the Scriptures, which speak of Christ’s being taken, and led as a lamb to the slaughter, and of his various sufferings, and the circumstances of them, have their accomplishment? “declaring”, as the Arabic version supplies, or as the Ethiopic version, “which say”,
that thus it must be; that the Messiah must be apprehended, and suffer, and die. The several parts of the sufferings of the Messiah are foretold in the writings of the Old Testament; the spirit of Christ, in the prophets, testified before hand of them; as that he should be reproached and despised of men, Psa_22:6, be spit upon, smote, and buffeted, Isa_1:5, be put to death, Psa_22:15, and that the death of the cross,
Psa_22:15, and be buried, Isa_53:9, and also the several circumstances of his sufferings, which led on to them, or attended them; as the selling him for thirty pieces of silver,
Zec_11:12, the betraying him by one of his familiar friends,
Psa_41:9, the seizing and apprehending him, and which is particularly referred to here, Isa_53:7, his disciples forsaking him, Zec_13:7, and even his God and Father, Psa_22:1, his suffering between two thieves, Isa_53:12, the parting of his garments, and casting lots on his vesture, Psa_22:18, the giving him gall and vinegar when on the cross, Psa_69:21, and not breaking any of his bones, Psa_34:20, yea, the Scriptures not only declared, that these things should be; but the necessity of them also, that they must be; because of the purposes and decrees of God, which are eternal, immutable, and unfrustrable; for as God had determined on his salvation of his people by Christ, and that through his sufferings and death, these were determined by him also, even the time, nature, manner, and circumstances of them; and which the Scriptures declare, and therefore must be likewise; and because of the covenant of grace, which is sure, unalterable, and unchangeable; in which Christ agreed to assume human nature, to obey, suffer, and die in it, and so do his Father’s will, which was to bear the penalty of the law, and undergo the sufferings of death, and which therefore must be, or Christ’s faithfulness fail. Moreover, on account of the law and justice of God, which required his bearing the curse, as well as fulfilling the precept of the law: and especially on account of the salvation of his people, which could not be effected without them, they must be. Christ, in these words, discovers a very great concern for the fulfilling of Scripture; and that because it is the word of God, which must not be broken; and because throughout it he is spoken of, in the volume of it, it is written of him, to do the will of God; even in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms: and besides, he was the minister of the circumcision, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers; and even agreeably to them, and upon the foundation of them, he had himself predicted his own sufferings: and as those were to be the rule of the faith and practice of his people in all ages, he was concerned for their accomplishment in every point; and which may teach us to value the Scriptures, and to be confident of the fulfilment of them in things yet future.
Jesus Before Caiaphas and the Council
Mat 26:57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
Gill: And they that had laid hold on Jesus,…. Who were the band, and the captain, and the officers of the Jews, as Joh_18:12, or as the Jews themselves say (q), the elders of Jerusalem; who not only laid fast hold on him, but bound him; and that both for greater security of him, some of them perhaps knowing how he had made his escape from them formerly; or at least taking the hint from Judas, to hold him fast, and lead him away safely; and by way of reproach and contempt, thereby showing that he was a malefactor, and had done some crime worthy of bonds; and having him thus in fast and safe custody, they
led him away to Caiaphas, the high priest; who was high priest that year; for the priesthood was frequently changed in those times, and men were put into it by the Roman governor, through favour or bribery. The year before this, Simeon, or Simon ben Camhith, was high priest; and the year before that, Eleazar, the son of Ananus; and before him, Ishmael ben Phabi, who were all three, successively, made high priests by the Roman governor: as was also this Caiaphas, this year; and who by Josephus (r), and in the Talmud (s) likewise, is called Joseph. From whence he had his name Caiaphas, is not certain: Jerom (t) says, it signifies “a searcher”, or “a sagacious person”; but may be better interpreted, he adds, “one that vomits at the mouth”; deriving the word, as I suppose, from קוא, “to vomit”, and פי, “the mouth”; See Gill on Mat_26:3. It was to the house, or palace of this man, the high priest, that Jesus was led,
where the Scribes and elders were assembled: a council was held about a week before this, in which Caiaphas assisted, and then gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient, that one man should die for the people, Joh_11:47, whether that was held at his house, or elsewhere, is not certain, very probably it might; however, it is clear from Mat_26:2, that two days ago, the chief priests, Scribes, and elders, were assembled together in his palace, to consult about putting Jesus to death; and here they were again met together on the same account, waiting to have him brought before them,
The trial of our Lord before the council, and the denial of Peter happening at the same time, might be related one before the other, according to the evangelists’ pleasure.
Accordingly, Matthew and Mark relate the “trial” first, and Peter’s denial afterward; Luke mentions the denial first, and John has probably observed the natural order. The parallel places are recorded in Mark 14:53-72; Luke 22:54-71; and Joh_18:13-27.
To Caiaphas – John says that they led him first to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas. This was done, probably as a mark of respect, he having been high priest, and perhaps distinguished for prudence, and capable of “advising” his son-in-law in a difficult case. The Saviour was “detained” there. probably, until the chief priests and elders were assembled.
The high priest – Note, Mat_26:3. John says he was high priest for that year. Annas had been high priest some years before. In the time of our Saviour the office was frequently changed by the civil ruler. This Caiaphas had prophesied that it was expedient that one should die for the people. See the notes at Joh_11:49-50.
The scribes and elders – The men composing the great council of the nation, or Sanhedrin, Mat_5:22. It is not probable that they could be immediately assembled, and some part of the transaction respecting the denial of Peter probably took place while they were collecting.
Clarke: They – led him away to Caiaphas – John says, Joh_18:13, that they led him first to Annas; but this appears to have been done merely to do him honor as the father-in-law of Caiaphas, and his colleague in the high priesthood. But as the Sanhedrin was assembled at the house of Caiaphas, it was there he must be brought to undergo his mock trial: but see on Joh_18:13 (note).
Guzik: (Mat_26:57-61) In violation of their own laws and customs, Jesus is tried before the Sanhedrin, the high court among the Jews.
On the night of His betrayal, and the day of His crucifixion, Jesus actually stood in trial several times, before different judges. It will be helpful to fill in the gaps provided by the other gospel accounts.
i. Before Jesus came to the home of Caiaphas (the official high priest) He was led to the home of Annas, who was the ex-high priest and the “power behind the throne” of the high priest (Joh_18:12-14, John 19-23).
ii. As recorded here in Matthew 26, Jesus was then led to the home of Caiaphas, the sitting high priest. He was tried before an ad-hoc gathering of the Sanhedrin that met during the night.
iii. After the break of dawn, the Sanhedrin gathered again, this time “officially,” and they conducted the trial described in Luk_22:66-71.
b. Where the scribes and the elders were assembled: This nighttime trial was illegal according to the Sanhedrin’s own laws and regulations. According to Jewish law, all criminal trials must begin and end in the daylight. Therefore, though the decision to condemn Jesus was already made, they conducted a second trial in daylight (Luk_22:66-71), because they knew the first one – the real trial – had no legal standing.
i. This was only one of many illegalities made in the trial of Jesus. According to Jewish law, only decisions made in the official meeting place were valid. The first trial was held at the home of Caiaphas, the high priest.
ii. According to Jewish law, criminal cases could not be tried during the Passover season.
iii. According to Jewish law, only an acquittal could be issued on the day of the trial. Guilty verdicts had to wait one night to allow for feelings of mercy to rise.
iv. According to Jewish law, all evidence had to be guaranteed by two witnesses, who were separately examined and could not have contact with each other.
v. According to Jewish law, false witness was punishable by death. Nothing was done to the many false witnesses in Jesus’ trial.
vi. According to Jewish law, a trial always began by bringing forth evidence for the innocence of the accused, before the evidence of guilt was offered. This was not the practice here.
Mat 26:58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.
Clarke: Peter followed him afar off – Poor Peter! this is the beginning of his dreadful fall. His fear kept him from joining the company, and publicly acknowledging his Lord; and his affection obliged him to follow at a distance that he might see the end.
And sat with the servants, to see the end – When a man is weak in faith, and can as yet only follow Christ at a distance, he should avoid all dangerous places, and the company of those who are most likely to prove a snare to him. Had not Peter got to the high priest’s palace, and sat down with the servants, he would not thus have denied his Lord and Master. Servants-officers, υπηρετων. Such as we term serjeants, constables, etc.
Barnes: Peter followed afar off – By this he evinced two things:
1. Real attachment to his Master; a desire to be near him and to witness his trial.
2. Fear respecting his personal safety. He therefore kept so far off as to be out of danger, and yet so near as that he might witness the transactions respecting his Master.
Perhaps he expected to be lost and unobserved in the crowd. Many, in this, imitate Peter. They are afraid to follow the Saviour closely. They fear danger, ridicule, or persecution. They “follow him,” but it is at a great distance – so far that it is difficult to discern that they are in the train, and are his friends at all. Religion requires us to be near to Christ. We may measure our piety by our desire to be with him, to be like him, and by our willingness to follow him always – through trials, contempt, persecution, and death. Compare the notes at Php_3:10. John says that another disciple went with Peter. By that other disciple it is commonly supposed, as he did not mention his name, that he meant himself. He was acquainted with the high priest, and went immediately into the hall.
Unto the high priest’s palace – The word rendered “palace” means, rather, the hall, or middle court, or “area” of his house. It was situated in the center of the palace, and was commonly uncovered. See the notes and plan of a house in Mat_9:1-8.
And went in – John informs us that he did not go immediately in; but the ether disciple, being known to the high priest, went in first, while Peter remained at the gate or entrance. The other disciple then went out and brought in Peter. Matthew, Mark, and Luke have omitted this circumstance. John recorded it, probably, because they had omitted it, and because he was the “other disciple” concerned in it.
Sat with the servants to see the end – That is, the end of the trial, or to see how it would go with his Master. The other evangelists say that he stood with the servants warming himself. John says, it being cold, they had made a fire of coals and warmed themselves. It was then, probably, not far from midnight. The place where they were was uncovered; and travelers say that, though the “days” are warm in Judea at that season of the year, yet that the nights are often uncomfortably cold. This fire was made “in the hall” (Luke). The fire was not in a “fireplace,” as we commonly suppose, but was probably made of “coals” laid on the pavement. At this place and time was Peter’s first “denial” of his Lord, as is recorded afterward. See Mat_26:69.
Wesley: But Peter followed him afar off – Variously agitated by conflicting passions; love constrained him to follow his Master; fear made him follow afar off. And going in, sat with the servants – Unfit companions as the event showed.
Mat 26:59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;
Mat 26:60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,
Barnes: False witness – That is, they sought for witnesses who would accuse him of crime of violation of the laws of the land or of God. We are not to suppose that “they wished” them to be “false” witnesses. They were indifferent, probably, whether they were true or false, if they could succeed in condemning him. “The evangelist” calls it false testimony. Before these witnesses were sought, we learn from John Joh_18:19-23 that the high priest asked Jesus of his disciples and his doctrine. Jesus replied that he had taught openly in the temple, and in secret had said nothing; that is, he had no “secret doctrines” which he had not been willing openly to teach, and he referred the high priest to those who had heard him. In a firm, dignified manner he put himself on trial, and insisted on his rights. “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?” Joh_18:23. This conversation took place, probably, before the council was assembled, and during this time the denials by Peter occurred. Luke informs us Luk_22:66 that the council came together as soon as it was day; that is, probably, near the morning, or not far from the break of day – after Peter had denied him and gone out.
Found none – That is, they found none on whose testimony they could with any show of reason convict him. The reason was, as Mark says Mar_14:56, that “their witnesses agreed not together.” They differed about facts, times, and circumstances, as all false witnesses do. Two witnesses were required by their law, and they did not “dare” to condemn him without conforming, “in appearance” at least, to the requirements of the law.
CTR: All the council — The Sanhedrin, composed of seventy of the most influential Jews, an ecclesiastical court, whose voice properly had great influence with the Roman governor.
But found none — They found many who willingly bore false witness against him, but none whose witness agreed together.
It is to the credit of those connected with the court that they neither seriously misunderstood our Lord’s teachings nor were willing to misrepresent them.
Came two false witnesses — Who falsified by slightly perverting our Lord’s statements. The Jewish Law required at least two witnesses to any such trial.
No attempt was made to bring any of those whom Jesus had relieved of various sicknesses.
Clarke: All the council sought false witness – What a prostitution of justice! – they first resolve to ruin him, and then seek the proper means of effecting it: they declare him criminal, and after that do all they can to fix some crime upon him, that they may appear to have some shadow of justice on their side when they put him to death. It seems to have been a common custom of this vile court to employ false witness, on any occasion, to answer their own ends. See this exemplified in the case of Stephen, Act_6:11-13.
Though many false witnesses came – There is an unaccountable confusion in the MSS. in this verse: without stating the variations, which may be seen in Griesbach, I shall give that which I believe to be the genuine sense of the evangelist. Then the chief priests and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; but they found it not, though many false witnesses came up. At last two false witnesses came up, saying; This man said, etc. It is the property of falsity to be ever inconsistent, and to contradict itself; therefore they could not find two consistent testimonies, without which the Jewish law did not permit any person to be put to death. However, the hand of God was in this business: for the credit of Jesus, and the honor of the Christian religion, he would not permit him to be condemned on a false accusation; and, therefore, at last they were obliged to change their ground, and, to the eternal confusion of the unrighteous council, he is condemned on the very evidence of his own innocence, purity, and truth!
Gill: Now the chief priests and elders, and all the counsel,…. Or sanhedrim, which consisted, as the Jewish writers say (u), of priests, Levites, and Israelites, of both ecclesiastics and laics; the ecclesiastics were the priests and Levites, and the laics the Israelites, or elders of the people; for if priests and Levites could not be found, a sanhedrim might consist of those only; and so those words in Deu_21:2, “thy elders”, are thus interpreted (w),
זה בית דין הגדול, this is the great sanhedrim; and though a king of Israel might not sit in the sanhedrim, yet an high priest might, if he was a man of wisdom (x), and it seems as if Caiaphas was now at the head of this council, by its being assembled at his palace; which though it was not the usual place where they met, yet might be chose at this time for greater secrecy. Now these thus assembled together,
sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; they first take him up, and then seek out for witnesses against him; being determined, right or wrong, to put him to death, if possible; and false witnesses too, even those whose business it was, to examine and detect false witnesses, and to inflict the same punishment upon them, which they by their false testimony intended to have brought on another, Deu_19:18. And besides, it was in the night, when it was forbid by their canons to begin the trial of capital causes, or to receive and admit of witnesses (y). Indeed the Syriac and Persic versions read, only witnesses, or witness, and leave out the word “false”; perhaps imagining, that men could never be so wicked, to seek out for false witnesses: but this need not be wondered at, when these men were bent upon the death of Christ at any rate; and were aware that nothing true could be objected to him, that would legally take away his life; and besides, their manner of procedure in judgment against a false prophet, a deceiver, and one that enticed to idolatry, and such an one they would have Jesus to be, was quite different from what they took with other persons: their canon runs thus (z):
“the judgment of a deceiver, is not as the rest of capital judgments; his witnesses are hid; and he has no need, or ought not to have any premonition, or warning, as the rest of those that are put to death; and if he goes out of the sanhedrim acquitted, and one says I can prove the charge against him, they turn him back; but if he goes out condemned, and one says I can prove him innocent the do not return him.
So in the Misna (a) it is said,
“of all that are condemned to death in the law, none have their witnesses hidden but this (the deceiver, or one that entices to idolatry)–and they hide his witnesses behind a wall, or hedge; and he (whom he endeavoured to seduce) says to him, say what thou hast said to me privately; and if he repeats it to him, he must say, how shall we leave our God that is in heaven, and go and serve stocks and stones! if he repents, it is well; but if he should say, so we are bound to do, and so it becomes us, they that stand behind the wall, or hedge, shall carry him to the sanhedrim and stone him.
In the Gemara it is thus expressed (b),
“they light up a lamp in the innermost house, and set the witnesses in the outermost house, so that they can see him and hear his voice, and he cannot see them.
And then follows what is said before, to which is added, “so they did to Ben Stada”; by whom they mean Jesus of Nazareth. Moreover, this need not seem strange, that they took such a course with Christ, when in the case of Stephen, they suborned and set up false witnesses against him. The sanhedrim cannot be thought to do this in person, but they sent out their officers to seek for such men, as could or would produce anything against him, and no doubt promised them an handsome reward,
Mat 26:61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.
Guzik: This fellow said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days”: After all the false witnesses had their say, Jesus is finally “charged” with a “bomb threat” against the temple. Clearly, Jesus said “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (Joh_2:19). But this glorious prophecy of His resurrection (Joh_2:21 makes it clear, He was speaking of the temple of His body) was twisted into a terrorist threat.
Gill: And said, this fellow said,…. Or saith, as De Dieu observes, the Syriac version of this place should be rendered; that is, he has not only said in times past, referring to Joh_2:19, but continues to say it, and glory in it:
I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days; in which they did injury, both to his words and sense: he did not say, “I am able to destroy the temple”, but only said, “destroy this temple”; signifying neither his power, nor his will and inclination to it; but put it upon the Jews, and left it to them to do it: nor did he say one word about the temple of God, or as it is in Mar_14:58, “this temple that is made with hands”; the temple at Jerusalem, which was made by the hands of men, and devoted to the worship of God; but only “this temple”, referring to his body, or human nature; in which he, the Son of God, dwelt, as in a temple; nor did he say that he was able to “build” it in three days, but that he would “raise it up” in three days; intending the resurrection of his body by his own power, after it had been dead three days; and so they perverted his sense, as well as misquoted his words; applying that to the material temple at Jerusalem, what he spoke of the temple of his body, and of its resurrection from the dead, on the third day; designing hereby to fix a charge, both of sacrilege and sorcery upon him: of sacrilege, in having a design upon the temple of God to destroy it; and of sorcery, or familiarity with the devil, and having assistance from him, or knowledge of the magic art, that he could pretend in three days to rebuild a temple, which had been forty and six years in building; and was what could never be done, but by help of Beelzebub, the prince of devils, by whom it was insinuated he did all his miracles.
in three days I will raise it again; by which he would appear to be the Son of God, with power, that had power of laying down his life, and taking it up again; and is the very sign, namely, his resurrection from the dead on the third day, he gives the Jews, when they sought one of him at another time, and upon another occasion.
Barnes: And said, This fellow said … – Mark has recorded this testimony differently. According to him, they said, “We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another. made without hands.” Probably both forms of giving in the testimony were used on the trial, and Matthew has recorded it as it was given at one time and Mark at another, so that there is no contradiction. Mark adds, “But neither so did their witnesses agree together.” That which they “attempted” to accuse him of is what he had said respecting his body and their destroying it, Joh_2:19; “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” This he spoke of his body; they perverted it, endeavoring to show that he meant the temple at Jerusalem. They neither stated it as it was, nor did they state correctly its meaning, nor did they agree about the words used. It was therefore very little to their purpose.
Clarke: I am able to destroy the temple of God –
1st. These words were not fairly quoted. Jesus had said, Joh_2:19, Destroy this temple, and I will build it again in three days.
2dly. The inuendo which they produce, applying these words to a pretended design to destroy the temple at Jerusalem, was utterly unfair; for these words he spoke of the temple of his body.
It is very easy, by means of a few small alterations, to render the most holy things and innocent persons odious to the world, and even to take away the life of the innocent.
Meyer: This meeting of the Jewish leaders had been hastily summoned; but their difficulty was to substantiate a charge that would warrant the death sentence. They had to go back to the beginning of Christ’s ministry for the one charge that seemed sufficient for their purpose. But see Joh_2:19; Mar_14:58. In the meanwhile our Lord opened not His mouth. He left His reputation in the care of the Father, to whom He also committed His soul. It is a good example to follow. Do what is right and let God vindicate you!
CTR: I am able — Nothing about this was false evidence. It was what the majority of those who heard probably understood our Lord to mean.
Destroy the temple — Not the Jewish Temple, “But this he spake of the temple of his body.” (Joh_2:19)
The true Church.
In three days — The fifth, sixth and seventh thousand-year days.
The Sanhedrin decided that he was a blasphemer for saying this.
Mat 26:62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?
Mat 26:63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
Mat 26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
Guzik: (Mat_26:62-64) Jesus testifies at His trial.
a. Do You answer nothing? Jesus sat silently until He was commanded by the office of the high priest to answer the accusations against Him. Finally, the high priest demanded to know if Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God.
b. It is as you said: Jesus isn’t at this trial to defend Himself. We think of the amazing defense He could have made. Jesus could have called witness after witness, and pointed to irrefutable evidence that He was indeed the Christ, the Son of God. But He knows that these hardened hearts care nothing for the facts of this case, so He simply testifies to the truth: It is as you said.
c. You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven: Jesus did add this one word of warning. He warned them that though they sit in judgment of Him now, He will one day sit in judgment of them – and with a far more binding judgment.
Barnes: Jesus held his peace – Was silent. He knew that the evidence did not even appear to amount to anything worth a reply. He knew that they were aware of that, and that feeling that, the high priest attempted to draw something from him on which they could condemn him.
I adjure thee by the living God – I put thee upon thy oath before God. This was the usual form of putting an oath among the Jews. It implies calling God to witness the truth of what was said. The law respecting witnesses also made it a violation of an oath to conceal any part of the truth; and though our Saviour might have felt that such a question, put in such a manner, was very improper or was unlawful, yet he also knew that to be silent would be construed into a denial of his being the Christ. The question was probably put in auger. They had utterly failed in their proof. They had no way left to accomplish their purpose of condemning him but to draw it from his own lips. This cunning question was therefore proposed. The difficulty of the question consisted in this: If he confessed that he was the Son of God, they stood ready to condemn him for “blasphemy;” if he denied it, they were prepared to condemn him for being an impostor, and for deluding the people under the pretence of being the Messiah.
The living God – Yahweh is called the living God in opposition to idols, which were without life.
The Christ – The Messiah, the Anointed. See the notes at Mat_1:1.
The Son of God – The Jews uniformly expected that the Messiah would be the Son of God. In their view it denoted, also, that he would be “divine,” or equal to the Father, Joh_10:31-36. To claim that title was therefore, in their view, “blasphemy;” and as they had determined beforehand in their own minds that he was not the Messiah, they were ready at once to accuse him of blasphemy.
Thou hast said – This is a form of assenting or affirming. Thou hast said the truth; or, as Luke Luk_22:70 has it, “Ye say that I am.” This was not, however, said “immediately.” Before Jesus acknowledged himself to be the Messiah, he said to them Luk_22:67-68, “If I tell you ye will not believe, and if I also ask you” – that is, propose the proofs of my mission, and require you to give your opinion of them “ye will not answer me, nor let me go.”
Nevertheless – This word should have been translated: “moreover or furthermore.” What follows is designed to explain and give confirmation to what he had said.
Sitting on the right hand of power – That is, of God, called here the Power – equivalent to “the Mighty, or the Almighty.” It denotes dignity and majesty; for to sit at the right hand of a prince was the chief place of honor. See the notes at Mat_20:21.
Coming in the clouds of heaven – See the notes at Matt. 24; 25. The meaning of this is, You shall see “the sign from heaven” which you have so often demanded; even the Messiah returning himself “as the sign,” with great glory, to destroy your city and to judge the world.
Clarke: Answerest thou nothing? – The accusation was so completely frivolous that it merited no notice: besides, Jesus knew that they were determined to put him to death, and that his hour was come; and that therefore remonstrance or defense would be of no use: he had often before borne sufficient testimony to the truth.
I adjure thee by the living God – I put thee to thy oath. To this solemn adjuration Christ immediately replies, because he is now called on, in the name of God, to bear another testimony to the truth. The authority of God in the most worthless magistrate should be properly respected. However necessary our Lord saw it to be silent, when the accusations were frivolous, and the evidence contradictory, he felt no disposition to continue this silence, when questioned concerning a truth, for which he came into the world to shed his blood.
Thou hast said – That is, I am the Christ, the promised Messiah, (see on Mat_26:25 (note)); and you and this whole nation shall shortly have the fullest proof of it: for hereafter, in a few years, ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, fully invested with absolute dominion, and coming in the clouds of heaven, to execute judgment upon this wicked race. See Mat_24:30. Our Lord appears to refer to Dan_7:13 : One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, etc. This may also refer to the final judgment.
CTR: The high priest arose — To give the effect that very damaging testimony had been given.
And said — Caiaphas, not only high priest, but in this particular case, acting as prosecuting attorney.
Answerest thou nothing? — A different and illegal plan, to excite the prisoner so that he would make some incriminating confession.
Jesus held his peace — He was not there to defend himself; and, if he had been, there was no need for defence. There was nothing criminal in what he had said respecting the Temple.
Knowing that the truth was not desired and would avail nothing with these men who so warmly cherished murder in their hearts.
I adjure thee — I put thee under oath.
The Son of God — Not Jehovah himself.
The charge of blasphemy was based upon his claim of being a Son of God, not the Father himself; that thus he was placing himself on a parity with God, as being of the same kind or nature.
For Jesus to keep quiet would have been to deny this great truth and to have failed to give proper witness.
Jesus saith — Our Lord was not bound to answer this question, which he well knew would be used to incriminate him as a blasphemer. To have remained silent would have been to deny himself, denying the truth, and denying the High Priest of the nation the knowledge and the corresponding responsibility of the hour.
Thou hast said — That is my name. That is, I assent to what you have said; or, I am the Messiah, the Son of God.
Hereafter — In the Millennial age, at his second coming.
Ye shall see — A declaration that those who there witnessed his humiliation and mock trial should in due time recognize him as the honored of God.
Right hand of power — Right hand signifies the chief place, position of excellence or favor, next to the chief ruler.
“Sit thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Psa_110:1)
Seated at the Father’s right hand in the sense of being given this permanent position of honor and dignity. Honored with a superior station, a position above all others. Jesus will be on the right hand when coming, and will remain on the right hand during the Millennial age and forever.
The power and glory of his Kingdom, which he had previously affirmed was not of this world but of the world to come, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
In the clouds — The time of trouble.
Of heaven — The powers of spiritual control.
Gill: And the high priest arose and said unto him,…. He rose up from his seat in great wrath and anger; partly being vexed, that they could get no other and better testimony; and partly because of Christ’s contemptuous silence, giving no answer to the witnesses, as judging they deserved none; and which highly provoked the high priest, and therefore in passion said, answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? Is it true or false, right or wrong? The Vulgate Latin renders it, “dost thou answer nothing to those things which these witness against thee?” To which agree the Arabic version, and Munster’s Hebrew Gospel.
But Jesus held his peace,…. Knowing it would signify nothing, whatever he should say, they being set upon his death, the time of which was now come; and therefore he quietly submits, and says nothing in his own defence to prevent it. To be silent in a court of judicature, Apollonius Tyanaeus (c) says, is the fourth virtue; this Christ had, and all others:
and the high priest answered and said unto him; though Christ had said nothing, a way of speaking very frequent among the Jews, and in the sacred writings:
I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God; the Christ; the anointed, that David speaks of in the second Psalm, and who is there said to be the Son of God, Psa_2:2, to which the high priest seems to have respect; since there is no other passage, in which both these characters meet; and which was understood by the ancient Jews of the Messiah, as is owned by modern ones (d). Jesus was given out to be the Messiah, and his disciples believed him to be the Son of God, and he had affirmed himself to be so; wherefore the high priest, exerting his priestly power and authority, puts him upon his oath; or at least with an oath made by the living God, charges him to tell the truth, and which when ever any heard the voice of swearing, he was obliged to do, Lev_5:1.
Jesus saith unto him, thou hast said,…. That is, thou hast said right; or as Mark expresses it, “I am”, Mar_14:62, the Christ, the anointed of God, who was so from everlasting, and in time; being before the world was, installed into, and invested with the office of mediator; and in the fulness of time, anointed with the holy Spirit without measure: he might truly say he was the Messiah, since all the characters of him in the books of the prophets, met in him; and all the miracles he was to work in proof of his Messiahship were wrought by him… For this phrase, “thou hast said”, as answering to an affirmation, “I am”; see Gill on Mat_26:25. Now, though Christ had so fully answered to the adjuration, and so strongly affirmed himself to be the Messiah, the Son of God, yet he knew they would not believe; and therefore refers them to an after proof thereof, which whether they would or not, would oblige them to acknowledge the whole:
nevertheless, I say unto you, hereafter shall ye see the son of man, sitting at the right hand of power: the Vulgate Latin, and Munster’s Hebrew Gospel, read “the power of God”, as in Luk_22:69
by “the son of man”, is meant Christ in the human nature; who then appeared at their bar as a mere man, in a very despicable form and condition, but hereafter they should see him in a more glorious one, and at “the right hand of God”: a phrase expressive of his exaltation, above all creatures whatever: respect is had to the prophecy of him in Psa_110:1. “Sitting” there, denotes his having done his work; and his continuance in his exalted state, until all enemies are subdued under him: and when he says they should “see” him, his meaning is not, that they should see him at the right hand of God with their bodily eyes, as Stephen did; but that they should, or at least might, see and know by the effects, that he was set down at the right hand of God; as by the pouring forth of the holy Spirit upon his disciples, on the day of pentecost; by the wonderful spread of his Gospel, and the success of it, notwithstanding all the opposition made by them, and others; and particularly, by the vengeance he should take on their nation, city, and temple; and which may be more especially designed in the next clause,
and coming in, the clouds of heaven. Though this may also be understood of Christ’s second coming to judgment, at the last day; when as he went up to heaven in a cloud, he will return, and come also in the clouds of heaven; see Act_1:9 Rev_1:7, when he will be seen by the eyes of all, good and bad; and when this sanhedrim, before whom he now was, will see him also, and confess that he is Lord and Christ, and the Son of God. Though the former clause seems to have regard to what would quickly come to pass, and what they should soon observe, and be convinced of; for απ’ αρτι, rendered “hereafter”, may be translated “henceforwards”; or as it is in the Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions, “from this time”; meaning, that in a very little while, they should begin to see the effects of his being set down at the right hand of God, and which would be full proofs of it, and should see him come in the clouds of heaven, at the last day: reference seems to be had to Dan_7:13, where one like unto the son of man is said to come in the clouds of heaven, and which is understood of the Messiah by many, both of the ancient and modern Jews (g): with whom one of his names is “Anani” (h), which signifies “clouds”
Mat 26:65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.
Wesley: Then the high priest rent his clothes – Though the high priest was forbidden to rend his clothes (that is, his upper garment) in some cases where others were allowed to do it, Lev 21:10; yet in case of blasphemy or any public calamity, it was thought allowable. Caiaphas hereby expressed, in the most artful manner, his horror at hearing such grievous blasphemy.
Barnes: Then the high priest rent his clothes – The Jews were accustomed to rend their clothes as a token of grief. This was done often as a matter of form, and consisted in tearing a particular part of the garment reserved for this purpose. It was not lawful for the high priest to rip his clothes, Lev_10:6; Lev_21:10. By that was probably intended the robes of his priestly office. The garment which he now tore was probably his ordinary garment, or the garments which he wore as president of the Sanhedrin – not those in which he officiated as high priest in the things of religion. This was done on this occasion to denote the great grief of the high priest that so great a sin as blasphemy had been committed in his presence.
He hath spoken blasphemy – That is, he has, under oath, arrogated to himself what belongs to God. In asserting that he is the Son of God, and therefore equal in dignity with the Father, and that he would yet sit at his right hand, he has claimed what belongs to no man, and what is therefore an invasion of the divine prerogative. If he had not been the Messiah, the charge would have been true; but the question was whether he had not given evidence that he was the Messiah, and that therefore his claims were just. This point – the only proper point of inquiry – they never examined. They assumed that he was an impostor, and that point being assumed, everything like a pretension to being the Messiah was, in their view, proof that he deserved to die.
Clarke: The high priest rent his clothes – This rending of the high priest’s garments was expressly contrary to the law, Lev_10:6 : Lev_21:10. But it was a common method of expressing violent grief, Gen_37:29, Gen_37:34; Job_1:20, and horror at what was deemed blasphemous or impious. 2Ki_18:37; 2Ki_19:1; Act_14:14. All that heard a blasphemous speech were obliged to rend their clothes, and never to sew them up again. See Lightfoot.
He hath spoken blasphemy – Quesnel’s note on this is worthy of notice. “See here a false zeal, a mask of religion, and a passionate and seditious way of proceeding, tending only to incense and stir up others, all which are common to those who would oppress truth by cabal, and without proof. By crying out, ‘heresy, blasphemy, and faction,’ though contrary to all appearance, men fail not to stir up those in power, to gain the simple, to give some shadow of authority to the ill-disposed, to cast devout but ignorant people into scruples, and thereby to advance the mystery of iniquity, which is the mystery of all ages.”
Guzik: (Mat_26:65-68) The Sanhedrin reacts with horror and brutality.
a. He has spoken blasphemy! The accusation of blasphemy would have been correct, except that Jesus was whom He said He was. It is no crime for the Christ, the Son of God, to declare who He really is.
b. He is deserving of death: Their verdict reveals the depths of man’s depravity.
CTR: Rent his clothes — Greek, simla, or upper garment. His very robes were symbolic of the blessed one who stood in their midst, fulfilling to the letter the predictions of the prophets. Implying to the Sanhedrin that, as a representative of God amongst them, he had heard something awful indeed. As an expression of his pretended righteous indignation.
Spoken blasphemy — No charges of treason or sedition were made. Such would have been out of order. Because Jews held their right to freedom from the Roman yoke, treason to Rome would have been loyalty to Judaism.
Mat 26:66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.
CTR: What think ye? — Apparently only two refrained from this vote–Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea; both had great respect for Jesus.
They answered — As prearranged. Guilty of death — Condemned by the high priest as a blasphemer and malefactor.
The Jews, who caused the crucifixion of Jesus, certainly did so in much the same spirit which led St. Paul, then Saul of Tarsus, to cause the stoning of St. Stephen.
Barnes: What think ye? – What is your opinion? What sentence do you pronounce? As President of the Sanhedrin he demanded their judgment.
He is guilty of death – This was the form which was used when a criminal was condemned to die. The meaning is, he is guilty of a crime to which the law annexes death. This sentence was used before the Jews became subject to the Romans, when they had the power of inflicting death. After they were subject to the Romans, though the power of inflicting capital punishment” was taken away, yet they retained the form when they expressed their opinion of the guilt of an offender. The law under which they condemned him was that recorded in Lev_24:10-16, which sentenced him that was guilty of blasphemy to death by stoning. The chief priests, however, were unwilling to excite a popular tumult by stoning him, and they therefore consulted to deliver him to the Romans to be crucified, “under the authority of the Roman name,” and thus to prevent any excitement among the people.
Clarke: He is guilty of death – Ενοχος θανατου εστι, he is liable to death. All the forms of justice are here violated. The judge becomes a party and accuser, and proceeds to the verdict without examining whether all the prophecies concerning the Messiah, and the innumerable miracles which he wrought, did not justify him. Examination and proof are the ruin of all calumnies, and of the authors of them, and therefore they take care to keep off from these two things. See Quesnel.
Gill: What think ye?…. Of the words just now spoken by him; do not they in your opinion amount to a charge of blasphemy and what punishment do you think ought to be inflicted on him? is he guilty of death, or not? This question he put, as being president of the court:
they answered and said, he is guilty of death; they were unanimous in their vote, for Mark says, “they all condemned him to be guilty of death”; only Joseph of Arimathea must be excepted, who consented not to their counsel and deed, Luk_23:51, and so must Nicodemus, if he was present; who seeing what they were determined to do, withdrew themselves before the question came to be put, and so it passed “nemine contradicente”; and indeed, if he had been guilty of blasphemy, as they charged him, the sentence would have been right. Now this was in the night, in which they begun, carried on, and finished this judicial procedure, quite contrary to one of their own canons (w) which runs thus:
“pecuniary causes they try in the day, and finish in the night; capital causes (such was this) they try in the day, and finish in the day; pecuniary causes they finish the same day, whether for absolution, or condemnation; capital causes they finish the same day for absolution, and the day following for condemnation; wherefore they do not try causes neither on the sabbath eve, nor on the eve of a feast day.
But in this case, they begun the trial in the night, examined the witnesses, finished it, and passed the sentence of condemnation, and that in the eve of a grand festival, their Chagigah,
Robertson: He is worthy of death (enochos thanatou estin). Held in the bonds of death (en, echō) as actually guilty with the genitive (thanatou). The dative expresses liability as in Mat_5:21 (tēi krisei) and as eis and the accusative (Mat_5:22). They took the vote though it was at night and they no longer had the power of death since the Romans took it away from them. Death was the penalty of blasphemy (Lev_24:15). But they enjoyed taking it as their answer to his unanswerable speeches in the temple that dreadful Tuesday a few days before. It was unanimous save that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus did not agree. They were probably absent and not even invited as being under suspicion for being secret disciples of Christ.
Johnson: He is worthy of death. This is the formal decision of the Sanhedrim to condemn the Lord to death for blasphemy. This was the second trial, the first examination being informal before Annas, and is mentioned only by John. There was a third, named only by Luke, at the dawn of day, because a decision by the Sanhedrim in
Peter Denies Jesus
Mat 26:69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.
Mat 26:70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.
Mat 26:71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.
Mat 26:72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.
Mat 26:73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.
Mat 26:74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.
Mat 26:75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
Guzik: (Mat_26:69-75) Peter, fearing association with Jesus, denies his relationship with Jesus three times.
a. A servant girl came to him: Peter is not being grilled before a hostile court, or an angry mob. His own fear made a servant girl and another girl hostile monsters in Peter’s eyes, and he cowered in fear before them.
b. I do not know the Man! Peter’s sin of denying his association with Jesus grows worse with each denial. First, he merely lied; then he took an oath to the lie, then he began to curse and swear.
c. In Mark – traditionally, written under Peter’s influence – this account is more detailed. Because this story is such an amazing example of man’s weakness and God’s forgiveness and restoration, Peter wanted this story told.
d. We see a significant contrast between Judas (showing apostasy) and Peter (showing backsliding).
i. Apostasy is giving up the truth, as Judas did. Judas was sorry about his sin, but it was not a sorrow leading to repentance.
ii. Backsliding is a decline from a spiritual experience once enjoyed. Peter slipped, but he will not fall; his bitter weeping will lead to repentance and restoration.
Meyer: It was love that led him to dare to follow to the court. John contrived to get him in, Joh_18:16. But he stood too near the fire amid that motley group, who were discussing their night adventure. He had been too self-confident, Joh_13:36; he had not watched unto prayer, Mat_26:40. The more he cursed and swore, the more he betrayed his Galilean brogue. Ah, the agony that ensued! Did he rush off to Gethsemane, and throw himself on the bent grass, where the form of the Master had so recently lain prostrate? Did his tears mingle with the sweat of blood? But Jesus loved him still, and was preparing a propitiation that would cleanse his sin, as He had already secured that his faith should not fail, Luk_22:32.
Barnes: Now Peter sat without in the palace – Mark says the first denial took place while Peter was “beneath in the palace.” This “palace” was the large hall or court belonging to the residence of the high priest. The part of it where Jesus and the council were was “elevated,” probably above the rest for a tribunal. Peter was “beneath or in the “lower part” of the hall, with the servants at the fire. Yet, as Matthew says, he sat without in the palace – that is, out of the palace where they were trying Jesus – to wit, in the lower part of the hall with the servants: both narratives are therefore consistent.
And a damsel came unto him – John Joh_18:17 says that this damsel was one that kept the door.
Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee – Probably she suspected him from his being in company with John. This was in the early part of the trial of Jesus. When he was gone out into the porch – The “entrance,” or the small apartment between the outer door and the large hall in the center of the building. See plan of a house, Notes, Mat_9:1-8. Peter was embarrassed and confused by the question, and to save his confusion from attracting notice, he went away from the fire into the porch, where he expected to be unobserved – yet in vain. By the very movement to avoid detection, he came into contact with another who knew him and repeated the charge. How clearly does it prove that our Lord was omniscient, that all these things were foreseen!
Another maid saw him – Mark simply says that “a maid” saw him. From Luke it would appear that “a man” spoke to him, Luk_22:58. The truth probably is that both were done. When he first went out, “a maid” charged him with being a follower of Jesus. He was probably there a considerable time. To this charge he might have been silent, thinking, perhaps, that he was concealed, and there was no need of denying Jesus then. Yet it is very likely that the charge would be repeated. A “man,” also, might have repeated it; and Peter, irritated, provoked, perhaps thinking that he was in danger, “then” denied his Master the second time. This denial was in a stronger manner and with an oath. While in the porch, Mark says, the cock crew – that is, the first crowing, or not far from midnight.
And after a while – That is, about an hour after (Luke). Peter by this time had returned into the palace or hall, and stood warming himself by the fire, Joh_18:25.
Thy speech bewrayeth thee – Your language makes it manifest that you are of his company. That is, as Mark adds, he was a “Galilean,” and in this way his speech betrayed him. It is probable that the Galileans were distinguished for some peculiarity of pronunciation, perhaps some unique rusticity or coarseness in their manner of speaking, that distinguished them from the refinement of the capital, Jerusalem. This charge, John says Joh_18:26, was supported by the express affirmation of a kinsman of Malchus, the servant of the high priest, that he had seen him in the garden.
Then began he to curse … – Peter was now irritated beyond endurance. He could no longer resist the evidence that he was known. It had been repeatedly charged on him. His language had betrayed him, and there was a positive witness who had seen him. He felt it necessary, therefore, to be still more decided, and he accordingly added to the sin of denying his Lord the deep aggravation of profane cursing and swearing, affirming what he must have known was false, that he knew not the man. Immediately then the cock crew – that is, the second crowing, or not far from three in the morning.
And Peter remembered the word of Jesus … – Luke has mentioned a beautiful and touching circumstance omitted by the other evangelists, that when the cock crew, “Jesus turned and looked upon Peter,” and that then he remembered his words. They were in the same room – Jesus at the upper end of the hall, elevated for a tribunal and Peter below with the servants, so that Jesus could look down upon Peter standing near the fire. By a tender and compassionate look – a single glance of his eye the injured Saviour brought to remembrance all Peter’s promises, his own predictions, and the great guilt of the disciple; he overwhelmed him with the remembrance of his sin, and pierced his heart through with many sorrows. The consciousness of deep and awful guilt rushed over Peter’s soul; he flew from the palace, he went where he might be alone in the darkness of the night, and “wept bitterly.”
The fall of Peter is one of the most melancholy instances of depravity ever committed in our world. But a little while before so confident; seated at the table of the Lord; distinguished throughout the ministry of Christ with special favors; cautioned against this very thing; yet so soon denying him, forgetting his promises, and profanely calling on God to witness what he knew to be false – that he did not know him! Had it been only once, it would have been awful guilt – guilt deeply piercing the Redeemer’s soul in the day of trial; but it was three times repeated, and at last with profane cursing and swearing. Yet, while we weep over Peter’s fall, and seek not to palliate his crime, we should draw from it important practical uses:
1. The danger of self-confidence. “He that thinketh he standeth should take heed lest he fall” 1Co_10:12. True Christian confidence is that which relies on God for strength, and feels safety only in the belief that he is able and willing to keep from temptation.
2. The highest favors, the most exalted privileges, do not secure us from the danger of falling into sin. Few men were ever so highly favored as Peter; few ever so dreadfully departed from the Saviour, and brought so deep a scandal on religion.
3. When a man begins to sin; his fall from one act to another is easy – perhaps almost certain. At first, Peter’s sin was only simple denial; then it increased to more violent affirmation, and ended with open profaneness. So the downward road of crime is easy. When sin is once indulged, the way is open for a whole deluge of crime, nor is the course easily stayed until the soul is overwhelmed in awful guilt.
4. True repentance is deep, thorough, bitter. Peter wept bitterly. It was sincere sorrow – sorrow proportioned to the nature of the offence he had committed.
5. A look from Jesus – a look of mingled affection, pity, and reproof – produces bitter sorrow for sin. We injure Him by our crimes; and His tender look, when we err, pierces the soul through with many sorrows, opens fountains of tears in the bosom, and leads us to weep with bitterness over our transgressions.
6. When we sin when we fall into temptation – let us retire from the world, seek the place of solitude, and pour out our sorrows before God. He will mark our groans; he will hear our sighs; he will behold our tears; and he will receive us to his arms again.
7. Real Christians may be suffered to go far astray. To show them their weakness, to check self-confidence, and to produce dependence on Jesus Christ, they may be permitted to show how weak, and feeble, and rash they are. Peter was a real believer. Jesus had prayed for him “that his faith should fail not,” Luk_22:32. Jesus was always heard in his prayer, Joh_11:42. He was heard, therefore, then. Peter’s faith did not fail – that is, his belief in Jesus, his real piety, his true attachment to the Saviour. He knew during the whole transaction that Jesus was the Messiah, and that he himself was well acquainted with him; but he was suffered to declare that which he knew was not true, and in this consisted his sin. Yet,
8. Though a Christian may be suffered to go astray – may fall into sin – yet he who should, from this example of Peter, think that he might, lawfully do it, or who should resolve to do it, thinking that he might, like Peter, weep and repent, would give evidence that he knew nothing of the grace of God. He that resolves to sin under the expectation of repenting hereafter “cannot be a Christian.”
It is worthy of further remark, that the fact that the fall of Peter is recorded by “all” the evangelists is high proof of their “honestly.” They were willing to tell the truth as it was; to conceal no fact, even if it made much against themselves, and to make mention of their own faults without attempting to appear to be better than they were. And it is worthy of special observation that Mark has recorded this with all the circumstances of aggravation, perhaps even more so than the others. Yet, by the universal belief of antiquity, the Gospel of Mark was written under Peter’s direction, and every part of it submitted to him for examination. Higher proof of the honesty and candor of the evangelists could not be demanded.
Clarke: Thou also wast with Jesus – What a noble opportunity had Peter now to show his zeal for the insulted cause of truth, and his attachment to his Master. But, alas! he is shorn of his strength. Constables and maid servants are no company for an apostle, except when he is delivering to them the message of salvation. Evil communications corrupt good manners. Had Peter been in better company, he would not have had so foul a fall.
But he denied before them all – So the evil principle gains ground. Before, he followed at a distance, now he denies; this is the second gradation in his fall.
Unto them that were there – Instead of λεγει τοις εκει· και, more than one hundred MSS., many of which are of the first authority and antiquity, have λεγει αυτοις· εκει και, she saith unto them, this man was There also. I rather think this is the genuine reading. Τοις might have been easily mistaken for αυτοις, if the first syllable αυ were but a little faded in a MS. from which others were copied: and then the placing of the point after εκει· instead of after αυτοις· would naturally follow, as placed after τοις, it would make no sense. Griesbach approves of this reading.
And again he denied with an oath – This is a third gradation of his iniquity. He has told a lie, and he swears to support it. A liar has always some suspicion that his testimony is not credited, for he is conscious to his own falsity, and is therefore naturally led to support his assertions by oaths.
Thy speech – Thy manner of speech, η λαλια σου, that dialect of thine – his accent being different from that of Jerusalem. From various examples given by Lightfoot and Schoettgen, we find that the Galileans had a very corrupt pronunciation, frequently interchanging ת ה א and ע, and so blending or dividing words as to render them unintelligible, or cause them to convey a contrary sense.
Bewrayeth thee – Δηλου σε ποιει, maketh thee manifest, from the Anglo-saxon, to accuse, betray; a word long since lost from our language.
Then began he to curse and to swear – Rather, Then he began positively to affirm – καταθεματιζειν, from κατα intensive, and τιθημι, I lay down, place, affirm. But the common reading is καταναθεματιζειν, which signifies to wish curses on himself. The former reading is supported by almost every MS. of value, and is, beyond dispute, the true reading, and has been received by Griesbach into the text. The business is bad enough, but the common reading makes it worse. In Mat_26:72, Peter is said to deny with an oath; here, he positively affirms and swears, probably by the name of God, for this is the import of the word ομνυειν. This makes the fourth and final gradation in the climax of Peter’s fall. From these awful beginnings it is not unfair to conclude that Peter might have gone almost as far as Judas himself, had not the traitorous business been effected before. Yet all this evil sprung simply from the fear of man. How many denials of Christ and his truth have sprung since, from the same cause!
The cock crew – This animal becomes, in the hand of God, the instrument of awaking the fallen apostle, at last, to a sense of his fall, danger, and duty. When abandoned of God, the smallest thing may become the occasion of a fall; and, when in the hand of God, the smallest matter may become the instrument of our restoration. Let us never think lightly of what are termed little sins: the smallest one has the seed of eternal ruin in it. Let us never think contemptibly of the feeblest means of grace: each may have the seed of eternal salvation in it. Let us ever remember that the great Apostle Peter fell through fear of a servant maid, and rose through the crowing of a cock.
Peter remembered the word of Jesus – St. Luke says, Luk_22:61, The Lord turned and looked upon Peter. So it appears he was nigh to our Lord, either at the time when the cock crew, or shortly after. The delicacy of this reproof was great – he must be reproved and alarmed, otherwise he will proceed yet farther in his iniquity; Christ is in bonds, and cannot go and speak to him; if he call aloud, the disciple is discovered, and falls a victim to Jewish malice and Roman jealousy; he therefore does the whole by a look. In the hand of Omnipotence every thing is easy, and he can save by a few, as well as by many.
He went out – He left the place where he had sinned, and the company which had been the occasion of his transgression.
And wept bitterly – Felt bitter anguish of soul, which evidenced itself by the tears of contrition which flowed plentifully from his eyes. Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall! Where the mighty have been slain, what shall support the feeble? Only the grace of the Almighty God.
This transaction is recorded by the inspired penmen,
1st. That all may watch unto prayer, and shun the occasions of sin.
2dly. That if a man be unhappily overtaken in a fault, he may not despair, but cast himself immediately with a contrite heart on the infinite tenderness and compassion of God. See the notes on Joh_18:27.
CTR: And wept bitterly — We know not what his prayers were, but we may be sure they were full of deep contrition that he had denied the Master. It is said that for the rest of his life Peter arose every morning at cock-crowing to remember afresh this denial of his Lord.
The weeping showed that the denial was merely the result of weakness of the flesh. The weaknesses, the faults, the blemishes of his character were of his flesh and not of his real heart intention.
Peter was sifted (Luk_22:31), and almost failed; but, being “clean,” true at heart, he was enabled to come off victorious. Judas also was tested, and he proved to be unclean.
Those who fail today should, too, weep bitterly for transgressions and repent and profit by their experiences.
Mark 14:66 And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest:
Mark 14:67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.
Mark 14:68 But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew.
Mark 14:69 And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them.
Mark 14:70 And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto.
Mark 14:71 But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.
Mark 14:72 And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.
Guzik: a. Now as Peter was below in the courtyard: As Mark concludes the story of Peter’s denial in Mar_14:66-72, he does it as a “flashback.” This didn’t happen as Jesus was being beaten, but as He was on trial.
i. Peter’s first problem was that he followed Him at a distance (Mar_14:54). When we distance ourselves from Jesus, it is hard to make a proper stand for Him at the critical time.
ii. Next, Peter sat with the servants and warmed himself at the fire (Mar_14:54). Peter found fellowship and warmth in the company of the ungodly, having forsaken the fellowship of the fleeing disciples. Peter wants to seem just one of this crowd, not a follower of Jesus.
iii. We might compliment Peter for following more closely than most of the other disciples. After all, they all turned and ran, but we can almost see Peter remembering, “I said I would stand by Jesus, so I must. Let me follow up and see what I can do.” From there, it just got worse.
iv. The officers of Mar_14:65 who struck Jesus are the same people as the servants of Mar_14:54, because the same ancient Greek word is used of both groups. Peter sat and associated himself with the same men who beat Jesus, and they beat Him just because someone else told them that Jesus was a wicked man.
b. I neither know nor understand what you are saying: A hostile man of authority didn’t interrogate Peter, as was the case with Jesus before the high priest. Just one of the servant girls was enough to make Peter deny Jesus. “A silly wench daunteth and dispiriteth this stout champion.” (Trapp)
i. Lane on I neither know nor understand: “Peter denied the charge, using the form common in rabbinical law for a formal, legal denial.”
ii. “Yet all this evil sprung from the fear of man. How many denials of Christ and his truth have sprung since, from the same cause!” (Clarke)
iii. And, as if it would help distance himself from association with Jesus, Peter began to curse and swear. When we hear that kind of language, we assume the person is not a follower of Jesus Christ. What do people think from how you talk?
iv. Jesus was on trial, the religious leaders were on trial, the officers were on trial – but Peter was also on trial. In his testing, he really did lose – but he won in the end.
c. And when he thought about it, he wept: Peter finally called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, but he remembered it too late – it was after he had sinned. For now, all Peter can do is to weep bitterly – but he will be restored.
i. “It was not the crowing of the cock that convicted Peter; it was the remembering of Christ’s words.” (Wiersbe)
ii. We have all made promises to Jesus that we have not kept; when that is the case, there is an appropriate time to weep bitterly – but then a time to come back to Jesus, who will always receive you back.
d. There is a significant contrast between Judas and Peter. Both of them denied Jesus in one way or another, but one was restored and the other was not. Restoring Peter was important to Jesus; after His resurrection, Jesus had a private meeting with Peter (Luk_24:34) and a public restoration with Peter (John 21).
i. Judas ended up as an apostate, and Peter was a backslider who suffered spiritual decline from an experience he once enjoyed.
ii. A month earlier, it would have been hard to say that Peter was more a true disciple than Judas; but the evidence came as Peter repented and received restoration after his sin, Judas was sorry but never repented or received restoration.
iii. In our own way, we have each denied Jesus. Have we faced up to it and received restoration as Peter did? Even if we have denied Jesus, we can be restored.
iv. There was an evangelist named Brownlow North. He was a man of God, but in his youth he lived a wild and sinful life. Before he was going to preach one Sunday a man handed him a letter recounting a shameful incident from Brownlow North’s life from before he walked with God, and the letter said that if North dared to preach that morning, the man would rise in the church and publicly proclaim some of the terrible things Brownlow North once did. North took the letter into the pulpit with him, and he read it to the congregation. He told them that it was perfectly true, and that he had repented and received forgiveness in Jesus. Through showing that a man can deny Jesus but still be restored, he drew many to Christ.
CTR: But he denied — Mark’s Gospel record is supposed to have been indited by Peter himself, Mark being in a large measure Peter’s amanuensis. The writers of the New Testament were certainly very different from the majority of writers in that they told the absolute truth without modification or varnish.
To see his Master apparently without friends in heaven, delivered over to his enemies and led from one tribunal to the other, has a paralyzing effect upon St. Peter. Stunned by the identification and wondering to what it might lead. The first instinct of nature, self-preservation overpowered him. He desired to avoid the troubles that had come upon Jesus.
The Master knew the loyalty of Peter’s heart, he knew he did it under stress.
Men who freely tell of their failings must have been men of great courage, great sincerity, great love for the truth.
Judas went down into the second death despised. Peter, after ups and downs of trial and discipline, passed to a reward of glory, honor and immortality.
Into the porch — Where the shadows were deeper and the people fewer.